Students associated with the Faiz Ahmed Faiz Study Circle of Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi, have alleged that they were denied permission for a university venue to organise a performance of Jana Natya Manch (JANAM), a street theatre group based in Delhi.
The venue — Safdar Hashmi Amphitheater — is named after a founding member of JANAM.
The students claim that the Faiz Ahmad Faiz study circle, a part of the student organisation Students’ Federation of India (SFI), invited JANAM to perform inside the campus on 12 January to celebrate the life and works of Safdar Hashmi.
“Despite approaching the proctor several times to grant permission for the performance, we received a negative response on the administration's part.”
What was the reason for not giving the permission? “Any organisation, or students, that wants to organise something in the campus, is being denied permission for the same without being given any explanation. We invited JANAM to perform at Safdar Hasmi Amphitheatre. We went to the proctor’s office and one of the proctorial staff saw the letter and told us that it is difficult to grant us the permission but they will check once with the proctor,” claimed Sanam Husain, president of SFI’s Jamia unit.
“When we went there the next day, the people at the reception only denied us the permission saying that it’s not possible because ‘we are not letting anything happen inside the campus. So, we cannot grant you the permission, the proctor will not allow us',” Husain said.
She added, "We were not given any reason for why the permission was not granted.”
What did the proctor say? When The Quint asked Jamia’s proctor, Atiqur Rehman, about why the students were denied permission for the venue, he said “Hume ye sab nahi pata. Yahan sirf padhai-likhai aur research hoti hai, activism waghera nahi (I don’t know about all this. People only study and research here, there is no activism)”.
What did JANAM say? “We have no idea why the students were denied permission. What’s more important is that the students are being denied any kind of democratic cultural activity. It is just a play. And why should students be denied permission in their own university. If they (university) feel that the amphitheater was a problem and they did not want to use it for street play, then they could have given the permission for some other place in the university. We were happy to do it anywhere,” said Moloyashree Hashmi, one of the leading members of JANAM and Safdar Hashmi's wife.
She further added that authorities should instead encourage students to participate in such cultural activities.
“They are preventing students from engaging in any kind of non-academic work outside a very narrow frame of reference."Moloyashree Hashmi
"JANAM has performed in Jamia in the past. It is not as if we haven’t. In fact I have also taught at Jamia and some students from the university are also a part of our group. It is not just Jamia, recently students from many other universities have been denied permission to do anything. Similar things have happened at Ambedkar University, Delhi, and Delhi University in recent past, despite the fact that we performed at these institutions before," she claimed.