When after a long-session of campaigning Sham Perwaiz finally took the position of president of students’ union in 2005, little did he know that his session will be known to have witnessed, till-date, last students’ union election of Jamia Millia Islamia. Soon was to come the day when the JMI authority would dissolve the students’ union, considering that it was exercising power into matters outside its jurisdiction. Fast-forward to 2017 and you find the students voicing out to regain the right which was snatched way back in 2006, the right to have just and proper representation.
Call for Students’ Union: Since When and Why?
A member of Joint Action Committee (JAC), Meeran Haider talks to U Mirror: Delhi and helps us finding a string of the present protest to the past.
Petition of 2011
While the ongoing protest of JAC and associated students has found an extensive coverage in mainstream media, both broadcasting and print, it is not to say that the demand is new or that is has just grounded itself. Between the students’ union ban of 2006 and 2017 protest to lift this ban, various attempts were made by the students to bring the necessity of reviving students’ union in front of the Vice-Chancellor and University Grant Commission. It was in 2011 that a group of three students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) knocked at the door of Delhi High Court to solve the dispute. The petitioners were Ikrar Khan, Afroz Alam Sahil and Naseem Ahmed, who argued that
- the university had dissolved the students union in 2006, after just four months of its installation in December 2005, without giving any solid reason.
- the university had failed to look into this matter even after directions given by University Grant Commission and Ministry of Human Resource and Development.
- Most of all, the university had been charging Rs. 50 per student against the label of students’ union facility for all the years (as reported in 2011) even when the students’ union was dissolved in 2006.
The case couldn’t reach any hard-ground and was left pending.
RTI by Hamidur Rehman (2012)
After the case of 2011, another student of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) Hamidur Rehman was left cheated on not getting admission in any of the seven MA courses he applied to, despite of being a topper and representing the university in various national competitions. His fault, you may ask? He stood by the demand of students’ union elections. He then filed an RTI, challenging the response of the university towards his applications in High Court. To which the university replied by pointing at the Jamia Act 1988 which gives the Vice-Chancellor the power to decide the fate of student, by expelling, rusticating or refusing admission on grounds as may be found applicable in the case.
Why Students’ Union When Subject Association Exists?
Subject Association consists of a representative of each center and department of Jamia Millia Islamia. Meeran Haider unveils how setting up of Subject Association was yet another attempt to put up a false play in front of Delhi High Court following 2011 petition. He informs, “Though the association had students representing different departments, it was of no benefit since the role of president was given to the Head of Department, a professor. The students still did not have independence in decision making.” Clearly, only a student can justify the presidentship of a ‘student body‘. Thus, the need of students’ union stands till date, as it is.
Decoding the Present
Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is at present hanging on the tip of the sword, balancing itself with demand for students’ union at one side and authority’s consideration of it being subjudice at the other. About 17 students of the institution, of student parties/forums such as National Student Union of India (NSUI), All India Students Association (AISA), Chattra Seva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) and Jamia Students Forum (JSF), have united themselves under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC) and are peacefully staging a protest in order to have the students’ union reinstated, so as to fill the gap between students and students’ related decision making processes.
The ‘restore the students union’ campaign is so far going as strong on-ground, as it is going on social media (check its Facebook page here). Furthering the cause, the students of JAC also marched to the Vice-Chancellor, Talat Ahmed’s office and submitted the memorandum on October 5th. The memorandum was a clear ultimatum to the authority to decide a date of students’ union election 2017 before October 10th, lest the students should escalate their protest and continue fighting for a democratic order.
Whether the university continues to dodge the creation of a representative body of students or reconsiders its stand and mend ways is to see!