‘Sexually Coloured Remarks Not Ok’: Jamia Students on Prof Ahmed
Jamia Millia Islamia students protest against a professor. 
Jamia Millia Islamia students protest against a professor. (Photo: Priyanka Bansal/The Quint

‘Sexually Coloured Remarks Not Ok’: Jamia Students on Prof Ahmed

Students of Applied Arts at Jamia Millia Islamia are protesting against their Head of Department, Hafeez Ahmed. The professor has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple students. The protest started 13 days ago on 30 January after the second year students of the department were left in the lurch with no professor to teach them except Ahmed.

“When we reached out to Ahmed sir saying that we desperately need teachers. He responded saying that shouldn’t be our concern.”
Suchitra Rathore, Student Jamia Millia Islamia

There was a general sense of discontent brewing among the Applied Arts students against their HoD. There were whispers about his inappropriate behaviour with women. All the voices came together on 30 January and shouted slogans for justice.

‘How Can Sexually Coloured Remarks be Ok?’

The protesting students allege that prof Hafeez Ahmed would pass unsolicited sexually coloured remarks at students. He would even go to the extent of asking personal questions about the student’s love life or her sartorial sense.

“Prof Ahmed would pass comments on the clothes that we wear. He would victim shame us if we complained against the unsafe department. His modus operandi was simple: target female freshers, tell them that they are beautiful and that they have a bright career ahead of them. The women who protested had to face his wrath, the ones who didn’t would always perform better than the others.”
Suchitra Rathore, Student Jamia Millia Islamia

Assaulted While Protesting

Students have been sitting on an indefinite protest against the professor outside the VC’s office. However, the protest turned violent today when the administration called the cops and asked them to physically drive away the students. Some students were even threatened by the registrar with an FIR. The registrar called the protest ‘illegal’.

“We have been sitting peacefully demanding justice for our fellow batch mates but the authorities have been throwing a new challenge at us every time. They have not given us any concrete answers, they have said that the prof Ahmed has been sent on an indefinite leave. But, he has been telling the media that he is on a medical leave. Why are the authorities protecting an accused?”
Inayat Ali, Student Jamia Millia Islamia

On 9 February, Hafeez Ahmed told The Indian Express that he is on a medical (and not university imposed) leave.

“I have not heard from the administration… that they are sending me on leave. In fact, I had requested medical leave because it was getting too much to take all this. I have been targeted and I will speak in my defence soon.”

The Jamia ICC Steps In

Akanksha, a Masters student from Jamia Millia Islamia’s Applied Arts department was groped and assaulted by the ‘supporters’ of the professor on 8 February. When she complained to the Jamia ICC about it, she was asked to re-enact her assault.

“I am not allowed to speak much about the ICC proceedings but the committee asked me to demonstrate how it happened, where it happened. I had to take them to the site of the incident.”

The Presiding Officer of the ICC Sabiha Zaidi believes that irrespective of what the university decides about the professor or the men who assaulted the students, they will be holding an independent enquiry into the complaints.

“Till now we received one written complaint, which we have addressed already. There is another complaint that has been signed by a bunch of students. We are in the process of ascertaining more information about the students and will then take the due course of action as prescribed under the ICC.”
Sabiha Zaidi to The Quint

Zaidi also said that Jamia ICC was an independent body that has a mind of its own and will do all that it takes to take the accused, if found guilty, to task.

“Our committee comprises of professors and an external member who is someone who has worked extensively for women’s rights. She, too, is a professor. There are elected student representatives as well. This composition ensures a free and fair trial.”

Students however told The Quint that a complaint reaches an ICC only when it is approved by the registrar. To which Zaidi said:

“That is not the case at all. Like I said, the Jamia ICC is an independent body. If there is a  complaint, we encourage the students to write to us. Once we have it in written, we will start the due process.”

The students are still sitting outside the VC’s office demanding justice. They want the professor to be removed and want their classes to be restored.

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