The protest of the students of Department of Applied Arts, Jamia Millia Islamia started on January 31, 2019. This protest has now taken the shape of a public outrage as shocking incidents have ensued.
The students of Applied Arts have been continuing their protest and hunger strike despite the trying and challenging circumstances. Even in the absence of any support from the authorities and the system trying to swipe the dirt under the carpet the students have been firm in their resolve and have not given up their struggle to get their demands fulfilled. Their protest is against their Head of Department (HoD) Mr. Hafeez Ahmed, who has been accused of sexual harassment, regional discrimination, unfair marking, and bullying and intimidating students by threatening to send goons after them. The students were joined by their seniors and alums from previous batches who have also suffered the torment of their Head of Department and the lack of cooperation of the administration.
The students want the removal of the HoD, Mr. Hafeez Ahmed
They want qualified teachers as well as permanent faculty members
Safety of the students
An interview with the protestors gave us an insight into the sorry state of affairs that is the Department of Applied Arts. Kulsoom Fatima, a second year student in the Faculty of Fine Arts told us, “The main reason behind the protest is that the total number of students including the Bachelor’s and courses are 130 and we have 8 practical subjects, 2 optional subjects and 2 theory subjects, but we only have one permanent faculty member who is Mr. Hafeez Ahmed himself. Hence, we want qualified teachers as permanent faculty members. Secondly, our submissions were made in a sealed envelopes to the teachers that were returned to us with the seal intact, so we want to know the basis on which we were awarded marks if our envelopes weren’t even opened. Also, the behaviour of our HoD is appalling; he practices regional discrimination and makes inappropriate comments on female students. He has also threatened students that if they protest against him in any way they will be kicked out of the university.
Another student told us that during a class the HoD commented on her friend’s dark circles, questioned her about the people that she talked to, and her sleeping schedules. Also, when the student explained her medical issues he asked her to come early to the college to practice yoga privately with him. These incidents indicate the unchecked clout and power that Mr. Hafeez has over the authorities.
On 7th February goons, allegedly sent by the HoD and backed by the administration attacked the peaceful protest march by the students and harassed and molested some of the female students as well. One of the protestors had to be admitted to a hospital due to severe injuries. Even after these incidents the administration sent him on a leave instead of suspending him and tried to hush up the incident. This has caused an outrage amongst the students of Jamia as well as many other universities who are now in solidarity with the protest of the Department of Applied Arts.
Adyashree Bohra is student of English hons at Jamia Millia Islamia