Privacy Issue or Targeting? Jindal Prof Pulled Up for Showing App Profiles

While some students claimed it was a violation of their privacy, alumni have stated it's routine academic work.

6 min read
Hindi Female

A law professor at Jindal Global University, Sameena Dalwai has been attacked on X (formerly Twitter) for being "anti-Hindu" and violating students' privacy by showing their dating App profiles in the class. Now, the Haryana State Commission for Women has intervened in the case. But there's more to it than what meets the eye.

Dalwai has taught at Jindal for over a decade, as per her LinkedIn profile. Her expertise lies in gender, caste, sexuality and law.

A video shot by one of the students in her class was circulated on 3 November by right-wing personality Rashmi Samant. She attacked Dalwai, stating that she terms "Jai Shree Ram" slogans as problematic and that "Hamas is being unfairly 'trolled' by students."

She added that the professor was seen showcasing 'Bumble' App profiles of students which was "borderline harassment."

It was in response to this post that chairperson of Haryana State Commission for Women, Renu Bhatia intervened.

Speaking to The Quint, Bhatia alleged, "I had asked the students if this is part of the curriculum, they said it is not. I had asked them if this was a system of teaching, they told me that when she started teaching, she was body-shaming and talking about lesbians and gays. This is not the system of teaching."
While some students claimed it was a violation of their privacy, alumni have stated it's routine academic work.

Renu Bhatia, chairperson of HSCW on X.

(Photo: X)

In her post on x (formerly Twitter) on 6 November, Bhatia wrote, that Professor Sameena Dalwai, "appears to have an issue with certain Hindu slogans, specifically 'Jai Shri Ram,' and labels students as right-wing, unacceptable students are students, one can not do politics at the cost of their wellbeing and career."

The next day, Bhatia reached the campus to meet the Vice Chancellor Professor C Raj Kumar and some students about the matter.

While some students claimed it was a violation of their privacy, alumni have stated it's routine academic work.

Renu Bhatia met with Jindal VC and the students.

(Photo: X)

On being asked whether Dalwai meant to dissuade students from chanting of any such religious slogans on campus, Bhatia told The Quint, "If anyone in the campus says Jai Shri Ram, she has a problem with it and she asks them, 'what do you mean by saying it here?' and why do you say that?' and the students have said that because they come from certain community backgrounds, it's their custom."

Bhatia added, "Some people say 'Hi' and some respond with Jai Shri Ram, so what is the problem in that? They're not yelling it in the classrooms."

After meeting with the students, she posted on X:

The Quint has accessed a screenshot of one of the emails sent by Dalwai to the students as they objected to activist Achin Vanaik's talk being held at the campus.

In the email addressed to the students, it can be seen that she is encouraging students to widen their understanding of the massacre in Palestine, origins of Hamas while also stating that fake news regarding Hamas has been generated by "Indian troll armies".

You can find cases of such disinformation in this report by The Quint.

Regarding 'Jai Sri Ram', she has not attacked or prohibited the slogan in her email.
While some students claimed it was a violation of their privacy, alumni have stated it's routine academic work.

An email sent by Professor Dalwai to the students).

(Photo: X)

'Use of Dating App — Part of Academic Exercise': Alumnus

An alumnus of the university, Raha* while speaking to The Quint has stated the case against Dalwai is "very deliberate, targeted and planned."

Raha has stated the narrative is being flipped around to show what it is not.

It's a very common academic exercise part of the gender and society course. The professor (and not just Sameena, anyone who taught the course ) uses dating apps to demonstrate how desire and attractiveness are socially constructed concepts by caste and class. That who we find attractive is also influenced by social background. This dating app exercise is a common thought experiment in many gender studies courses to show this point.
Raha*, Jindal Alumnus

Further, he alleged that in the past, several "right-wing students" have recorded faculty without their consent and then uploaded clips without context on X, just to harass them.

He added that last year, a short clip of another professor who was merely reading out from Ambedkar's book was circulated and he was harassed by right-wing trolls and accused of 'Hinduphobia.'

A current student at the University who wishes to be anonymous corroborated to The Quint that discussing the App profiles is a routine exercise.

"The only issue is that she allegedly dissected a female student's Bumble account in front of the class. An investigation in this regard was carried out last semester. This time, the targeting happened after the event on Palestine and subsequent protest that happened in campus. The right-wing used this opportunity to harass the progressive professors."
Jindal student to The Quint

The student added that Dalwai had spoken in favor of Palestine as well.

In the following screenshot from one the recorded videos, it can be seen that she's breaking down different identity and caste aspects from the dating App profiles.

While some students claimed it was a violation of their privacy, alumni have stated it's routine academic work.

Professor Dalwai to the class on the App profiles from the purported video.

(Photo: X)

However, Bhatia does not agree. She stated that no professor did it before.

Another ex-Jindal student, Namrita* told The Quint that it is a privacy issue as one cannot "show dating profiles in class and ask people why they would swipe right or left on a person as someone's profile from the class could come up."

But I also think that news articles using her being "anti-Hindu" and Hamas supporter has nothing to do with this issue and are using it just to anger the people even more. They could have addressed the same in a different article, but why use it for the dating profile issue? It has no connection to it.
*Namrita, Jindal Alumnus

Bhatia also claimed that the moment she showed the dating App profiles, some of the boys and girls in the class said that it violated their privacy and that they were uncomfortable with it.

"Sameena then told them to make a fake account and so she can teach them about it, but even for a fake one they would have to put another photo. The teacher told them, 'Put Rahul Gandhi's photo, he's very famous.' I'm surprised that Rahul Gandhi has not taken an action yet," added Bhatia.

Dalwai has apologised internally to the VC. However, Bhatia has said that the Haryana State Commission for Women will summon her after some days as one of her parents are unwell at the moment.

Bhatia has alleged that after the apology, she told the class not to use mobile phones in the class or she will take action. The students are scared to speak much, she alleged.

Raha stated that even though Jindal University has usually been a progressive campus, in recent years, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, "the right-wing influence has grown these incidents have increased. Even when students did the BBC screening, right-wing students took videos of faculty and students who participated and doxxed them on X (Ex-Twitter)."

"What's common in all these incidents is that now there's fake news, unnecessary sensationalism that RW mouthpieces like OpIndia picks up and then is spread across media outlets without even verification," he said.

Several others have come forth on X and stated that it was a "legal academic work" and such actions "suppress academic freedom."

(*Names have been changed to protect identity. The Quint also reached out to Professor Sameena Dalwai, the University and other students. Their response will be added once received).

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Topics:  Hamas   Naveen Jindal   Dating App 

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