New Delhi: A female student of the Jamia Millia Islamia University was assaulted allegedly by some students and had to be hospitalised on Thursday night, triggering a protest against the administration’s failure to provide safety in the campus.
Since February 1, the students of Fine Arts have been protesting against the Head of the Department of Applied Arts, Hafeez Ahmed. He has been accused of sexual harassment, intimidating the students and regionalism.
It all started in January when the students decided to hold a demonstration against the dearth of faculty members. “We have nine subjects and just one faculty member,” says Firdaus, an undergraduate student of the department.
The HOD allegedly warned the students against holding the protest. “He called me to his office on January 31 and threatened me. He even told me that he would rusticate me and get me beaten if we continued the protest,” says Dhruv, another student of the department. He alleges that he was thrashed that evening by a few men sent by the HOD.
“They asked me if I was the one organising the protest and then started to beat me,” Dhruv alleges.
The next day the students sat on a protest pressing for their demands.
On Thursday, while the protesting students were on way to the faculty of Fine Arts to talk to the HOD, they were confronted by students on HOD’s side. Some female studens were allegedly assaulted in a scuffle.
Later, the students went to the Vice-Chancellor’s office along with the HOD to air their complaints. While a woman student tried to avoid any further escalations, she was allegedly grabbed by her collar and groped.
The protesting students allege that the miscreants are the ones who have been on the HOD’s side.
“We called the PCR to file a complaint. But the university administration intervened and stopped us from doing so,” says Manish, a student of Fine Arts.
However, the administration says that the erring students have been suspended and the HOD has also been sent on a leave. “We are looking into the grievances of the students. Action will be taken after the enquiry is completed,” says Ahmad Azeem, a spokesperson for the university.
The woman students of the department have accused Hafeez of making lewd comments, personal attacks and unsolicited text messages. “He referred to one of the students as ‘Queen’ in a text message. He is known for making comments on our clothes,” said Firdaus, another student of the department.
The dean of Faculty of Fine Arts, Nuzhat Kazmi, has been given the charge of department of Applied Art. The students allege that she hasn’t turned up to listen to their grievances. The dean and the acting HOD refused to comment on the issue saying that ‘there are other pressing issues in the department right now.’