Jamia Millia Islamia has banned research scholar and activist Safoora Zargar from entering the university campus, days after her MPhil admission was cancelled. After she was removed as a student on 29 August, Zargar and other Jamia students had been participating in protests demanding that she be re-admitted and that she be given extension to submit her thesis.
In an office order by the chief proctor of the university dated 14 September, the protests were cited as the reason for banning Zargar from the campus. The order states:
“It has been observed that Ms Safoora Zargar (ex-student) has been involved in organising agitations, protests and marches on the campus against the irrelevant and objectionable issues to disturb the peaceful academic environment with few students who are mostly outsiders. She is instigating innocent students of the university and trying to use the university platform for her malafide political agenda alongwith some other students. Further, she is hampering the normal functioning of the institution. In view of above, the competent authority, for maintaining peaceful academic environment across the campus, has approved campus ban on ex student Ms Safoora Zargar with immediate effect.”
Students Given Show Cause Notice for Participating in Protests
Moreover, in a show-cause notice to students, the university proctor has written that the participation of multiple students in protests in support of Zargar “is a gross violation of Jamia’s rules and regulations, and viewed separately by the Jamia authorities. Therefore, you are hereby directed to explain in writing why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.”
The Quint spoke to some of these students. One told us he was given less than 24 hours to respond to the show cause notice, while another said he wasn't even present at the protests.
"In the name of natural justice, we were not given enough time by the administration to even respond to the notice," Dibya Jyoti Tripathi, a student at Jamia's Department of Economics, told The Quint.
"The administration has increasingly highlighted its partial nature. This whole crackdown is mainly due to some outside powers that are constantly trying to influence the administration and succeeding in thwarting dissent whenever there is a whiff of an organised protest by the student committee," he added.
Speaking to The Quint, Ravinder Kumar, the dean of department of Social Sciences at Jamia, said “Safoora Zargar was given ample chances to not have her admission cancelled by the Board of Education, she did nothing about it. She could have taken many routes, we gave her an extension of one whole semester and still her work was not considered satisfactory by the supervisor. We can't do anything about that. She had the option to take a maternity leave as well, but she didn’t do that either.”
On the question of her campus ban, Kumar said the proctor’s office is responsible for that. The Quint reached out to Waseem Ahmad Khan who referred the reporter to Chief Proctor and In charge (Security), Professor Atiqur Rahman, who hasn’t responded yet. The report will be updated as and when there is a response.
Zargar was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or the UAPA, in April 2020 in connection with the Delhi riots. She was granted bail on humanitarian grounds in June 2020 – she was pregnant at the time. On 24 August this year, Zargar spoke about how Jamia is threatening to cancel her MPhil admission. She was enrolled in the university’s Department of Sociology in the integrated MPhil and PhD programme and the subject of her research is, ‘Socio-Spatial Segregation of Muslims in Urban Areas,’ which she began in 2019.
She had tweeted, “Since December 2021, I have been made to run from pillar to post for extensions that are easily given to other scholars in the university. I have faced severe abuse at the hands of my supervisor and my department. While the UGC has granted five consecutive COVID extensions, I have been given only one.”
Days later, on 29 August, the university cancelled her admission. “The scholar did not submit her MPhil dissertation within the maximum stipulated time of five semesters plus an additional semester of COVID extension (6th semester) that was also given to her, which ended on 6th February 2022,” the university said in its notice cancelling her admission.