As Jamia Millia Islamic (JMI) celebrates 97 years of existence, a group of students in the campus have been sitting on a hunger strike. Around 10 students have been on a hunger strike since 25 October, in a bid to demand student union elections in the varsity.
The protesting students say that the university was founded as part of the ‘fight for democracy’ against the British, which demanded that Indians be allowed to choose their own representatives to govern them. Protesting students told that they will celebrate Founder’s Day only after they are granted the rights their predecessors enjoyed.
Students alleged that the administration has, time and again, ignored their complaints regarding poor facilities and other basic requirements. And now, they’ve had enough.
We don’t get the facilities: hostel, exams, leadership, our basic requirements fulfilled. And since we don’t have the opportunity to contest it through a representative body, it becomes extremely easy for the University administration to ignore our plea.
Suhail Chaudhadhry, student at Jamia Millia Islamia
Students quoted Jamia Vice Chancellor, Talat Ahmed, as saying that the elections could not be held because the matter is is sub-judice and thus any move made by the University will be seen as ‘contempt of court’ on their part.
But what is the real story?
A 11-Year-Long Fight For a Student Body
The last existing student union in Jamia was dissolved in 2006, with the administration claiming the student body was hampering the academic progress of the institution. The fight to resurrect the body has been on for 11 years now, with students accusing the administration of working to thwart all attempts to establish the body.
In 2012, a group led by then-student Hamidur Rahman, filed a Writ (Petition No 917/2012 titled ‘Hamidur Rahman Vs JMI’), stating that they did not want Jamia authorities to hold direct elections for a student council.
In an official release, the university said: “ A group of nine students have intervened in the Writ Petition and filed an application dated February 2012 praying to present their case in the larger academic interest of Jamia. In paragraph 9 of the said application, these students have opposed any direction system of elections in the Jamia Millia Islamia. This application was admitted on record by the High Court of Delhi”.
Tug of War
Vice Chancellor Ahmed has been repeatedly quoted as saying that the hands of the administration were tied because the matter was sub-judice. However, students allege the university has taken no steps withdraw its position from court, a move that could re-open talks about the elections between the students and the administration.
Students allege the Jamia admin has taken no steps withdraw its position from court, a move that could re-open talks about the elections.
Termine the VC’s explanation a “sorry excuse”, protesting students told that the nine students who had filed the Writ in court were no longer students of the varsity and thus could not speak on behalf of the current set of students.
The writ for the case that the VC keeps mentioning, was filed in 2012. The student who had filed the case, is currently not a student at this University anymore. More importantly, there were nine students who were forced by the administration to go to the court and file a case that they didn’t want any direct system of elections.
Amber Fatmi, President of AISA
“The court has not passed any order putting a stay on the elections. That is just the excuse the administration is using. So a ‘contempt of court’ pledge is just not valid, in this instance,” he adds
For now, the students refuse to give up their hunger strike until the authorities give in to their demands and allow them to hold elections for a representative student body.
For 11 years, we haven’t been given our basic rights. Through this hunger strike, we plan to keep alive the fight of eleven years, where demand the right to hold elections to form a representative student body.
a hunger strike participant