In an ongoing protest, women students of Jamia Millia Islamia University gathered in the campus to agitate against the head of department (HOD) of the applied arts department for allegedly sexually and mentally harassing them. After eight days of continuous demonstration and two days of hunger strike, the girls claim that on Thursday, as the students were waiting for the HOD to speak to them, they were beaten up. “He came out after sometime, accompanied by goons who assaulted students. Several women students were thrashed too. A master’s female student was beaten up by the gundas. Her breasts were squeezed, her hair was pulled, and she is currently in hospital right now. And this all happened in the front of administration,” said a statement released by the Pinjra Tod collective.

COMPLAINTS FILED, NO REDRESSAL

Over six women students have filed complaints of sexual and mental harassment by the professor. One of the students, Rhythm, who is studying Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jamia, told SheThePeople.TV, “There are several charges against that professor, including passing sexually-coloured remarks against girls, unfair marking, mental harassment, sexual messages sent by him at odd hours, etc. All these girls who have filed complaint against the professor belong to different classes and more girls are now coming forward and adding to the complaints.”

She added that initially when the girls filed complaints in the university itself, the Proctor did not accept them. “Now we are anonymously and stealthily filing FIRs. Initially, we tried reporting about these incidents within the college administration, but they didn’t seem very keen on taking them up. They kept delaying the process and the girls got no redressal,” Rhythm said.

ALSO READ: Jamia Rolls Back Curfew Timing For Girls’ Hostel, Criminalises Protests

REGIONAL DISCRIMINATION BY HOD

But what was unimaginable for the girls was what happened on Thursday when some goons started physically assaulting and molesting them during the protest. Priyanka Grewal, who is in her first year of M.A. Human Rights, also added to the kind of behaviour the professor puts the students through, saying he even indulges in regional discrimination. She said, “He calls the Kashmiri students Talibanis or terrorists, the students from Bihar or Bengal, he calls them ‘Bimari hain ye toh’, he wouldn’t let South Indian students attend classes because they don’t know Hindi. He has a few favourite students in the department and these favourites then threaten and beat up people who complain against the professor.”

WHAT THE PROTESTING WOMEN WANT

The students have claimed that they even went to complain to the college Internal Complaints Committee about the HOD, but the committee did not accept their claims and did not take up the report a few months back. Then he allegedly got to know who the students were and then resorted to unfair marking in their exams.

Now the Proctor has told the protesting students that the administration has sent the HOD on an indefinite leave. Also, the students who started beating the girls have been suspended. Rhythm says, “This was not our demand, we want the HOD to be terminated. If the administration cannot do it, then at least give it to us in writing that you have suspended the HOD and not sent him on leave.”

This is not the only case of harassment that has happened in Jamia. We also spoke to a woman who studied in Jamia in the 2009-2011 batch and she also faced sexual harassment by a professor

SEXUAL HARASSMENT NOT NEW IN JAMIA

Harassment by professors isn’t new in universities and the administration has always had an upper-hand in dealing with cases. This is not the only case of harassment that has happened in Jamia. We also spoke to a woman who studied in Jamia in the 2009-2011 batch and she also faced sexual harassment by a professor. However when she also went to complain against the professor to the internal committee, they dismissed her claims, saying that she would need to give evidence, otherwise they won’t be able to help her. She said that the professor still teaches in Jamia and even went on to become HOD some years back.

Freya Dasgupta shared that a professor at the university molested her in his office after calling her to his room on the pretext of some work. “I ran out and told another professor about it and he suggested that I should raise this issue with the women’s cell, which I did. But they asked me to come back with proof because apparently the professor was quite well-known and influential in the university’s administrative circles and it would be next to impossible to charge him with anything without solid proof. So the women’s cell chose to do nothing about it. I complained to the head of department who generally reprimanded the faculty without taking names and organised gender sensitization workshops,” Dasgupta told SheThePeople.TV.

It looks like a pattern within Jamia to save the professors and leave the students to be disrespected, disregarded and discriminated by such professors. We tried reaching the Chief Proctor but couldn’t get through to him.

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