Letter Against VC Akhtar for Slamming Police? Ask Jamia Students

A member of search committee that suggested Akhtar’s name has claimed that she was denied CVC clearance. 

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Students of Jamia Millia Islamia suspect that Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar’s open criticism of action by Delhi Police and brief support for students could have led to calls for her being called back.

The comments by students of JMI come in the wake of a report in The Indian Express which claims that Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, one of the three members of the search committee that suggested the names of Akhtar and two others to the President, has now written to the president asking for the VC to be called back.

According to the report, Ramaswamy, basing his argument on media reports, has claimed that the Central Vigilance Commission had denied clearance to Akhtar in January 2019, three months before she was appointed VC by the president. Ramaswamy, it seems, has not mentioned the exact nature of CVC’s alleged objection or an explanation of the same in the letter.


Akhtar’s Criticism of Delhi Police Behind Letter?

Speaking to The Quint, Jamia student Amanullah said that following the police brutality in JMI on 15 December, VC Akhtar had criticised the police and said that the latter did not have permission to enter campus. In doing this, he asserts, VC Akhtar had taken a pro-student step and went against the government, all of which could have led to this letter being written.

“The police brutality on Jamia students and the use of lathicharge by police in Jamia was criticised by ma’am (Najma Akhtar). Somewhere down the line, this went against the government’s stand and became a pro-student stand. Is this the reason why she is being targeted? We feel this is the reason why ma’am is being targeted.”
Amanullah, Jamia Student

On 13 January 2020, VC Akhtar had said that "Delhi Police entered the campus without permission and the process of filing an FIR against them will begin from tomorrow." But this statement came almost a month after the Jamia incident and only after students had gheraoed her office, demanding action against police brutality.

The delay in Akhtar’s response, coupled with her criticism of Delhi Police, suggests that the VC was trying to strike balance, in doing which she may have failed to satisfy both sides, says Jamia student Shaily Agarwal.

“She’s tried to strike a balance between not being the government’s puppet and also not totally giving in to the student’s side. So, she has taken some measures to protect the campus, she did try to file an FIR against the police and the outbreak that happened on 15 December. But also, there hasn’t been something very concrete done against it. She’s tried to strike a balance, so, I don’t think she’s been able to satisfy either of the parties.”
Shaily Agarwal, Jamia Student

Akhtar Appointed Without CVC Nod?

According to the report, the search committee comprising Ramaswamy, Professor D P Singh and Justice (retired) M S A Siddiqui, was constituted in October 2018 and had shortlisted 13 candidates out of applicants.

Quoting Ramaswamy’s letter, the report states “After having personally interacted with the 13 shortlisted candidates on 28 November 2018, a panel of three names was recommended to you (the President), subject, of course, to vigilance clearance.”

Ramaswamy, the report claims, wrote the letter after learning about media reports about a January 2019 CVC Memo which purportedly advised against “considering Akhtar for any post-retirement assignment or re-employment in any organisation, institution or university under the ambit of the Human Resource Development Ministry”.

In the light of these allegations, students of JMI have now questioned as to why Akhtar was appointed Vice Chancellor in April 2019, if the CVC had indeed flagged her candidature.

“The CVC had not given clearance in January 2019 itself. Her (Akhter’s) appointment only happened after this. How did her appointment happen without clearance?”
Amanullah, Jamia Student

Suspecting a wider power-play behind these revelations, Jamia student Arjun Ramachandran asked “If she is not qualified to be an appointee, she should not be there in the first place. And if there is a power-play behind this appointment, then we can be sure that the next appointee will also be based on this power-play. So, students are in a kind of limbo here.”

In January 2020, M Ehtesham-Ul-Haque, had filed a petition before the Delhi High Court, asking the Ministry of Human Resource Development to produce documents pertaining to VC Akhtar’s appointment. The matter is pending before the court now.

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