NEW DELHI: On October 11, 5 students received the Show Cause Notice from the Proctor Office, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). The five students were among the 12 students who were a part of the two-hour symbolic protest against inviting Israel to be the country partner of Global Health Zenith Confluence’19 – an event organized by the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics, JMI, on October 5, 2019.
What is Show Cause Notice?
A Show Cause Notice is a type of order that requires an individual or a group of people to state a reason or justify as to why the administration shall not take any action against them. The Constitution of India provides that an accused has the Fundamental Right to Defend oneself when charged with allegations. It is regarded as an opportunity to present oneself with a reasonable excuse for committing wrongdoing/ violation.
Why did the students receive Show Cause Notice?
On October 11, the students received Show Cause Notice for tarnishing the image of the institution, hampering the peace of the university, misconducting with the guards, breaking the lock of the Proctor Office, disrespecting the Deputy Chief Proctor, and protesting unnecessarily, as mentioned in the Notice.
One of the Protestors said, “Freedom of Speech and Expression is our Fundamental Right. We have the right to dissent, our constitution has given us that right, so how can our institution take it away from us? Our protest on 5th October was peaceful and did not hamper the conference at all. The allegations on us are false. In fact, we (including women) were manhandled by the guards. We were false-promised that an inquiry would sit to discuss the manhandling, rather we received a call at our houses and then a notice.”
According to our sources, on October 3, two days before the Conference, the Proctor Office sent an official email to the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics, asking if there was an official collaboration with Israel, the number of delegates coming from Israel, and to attach the poster/invitation circulated by the Faculty, to which the Faculty replied that there was no official collaboration, only one delegate was coming to present his paper, and no official poster was prepared by them.
The protestors condemned the above information by saying that the email was sent on October 17 at 1:58 pm, so many days after the conference, and not on October 3; “We have the Proof of the same”, they said.
Why are students protesting?
The indefinite sit-in protest against the Proctor Office began on October 14 and enters its sixth day today. The protest is a manifestation of their rejection of the Notice sent by the administration. It is, as they claim, their protest asking for the withdrawal of the Notice, giving them the liberty to participate in protests. They also demand an apology for the manhandling done by the guards.
Another protestor said, “University space is democratic. And this Show Cause Notice is baseless. We have a Right to choose Religion in this country, let’s say you choose to follow Islam and the government asks you to justify it, will it make sense? Similarly, we have been given this Notice to justify our peaceful protests and the allegations that are not even true. The guards are not letting professors from other universities inside the Jamia premises, not letting them meet us. We refuse to reply to Show Cause. And we boycott the Discipline Committee for the reason that the Chief Proctor would be on the jury so naturally, the decision would be biased and against us.”
Mixed-Views by other students of Jamia –
On interviewing random students within the Jamia Campus, TJR came up with the list of mixed views by the students. While most of the students agree to the point that they must not be stopped from voicing, some call it a waste of time. “We have come here to study not to protest, we must focus on academics,” said one of the students.
“Jamia inviting Israel for an International Conference is a progressive idea. We should be proud that this is happening in Jamia, why is there a need for protest? However, the beating and locking of the students is no way of dealing with the students. It is wrong and cannot be justified.” said another student from the Department of English.
Some students turned out to be in solidarity with the protestors, “Knowing what Israel is doing in Palestine, Jamia must boycott any collaboration or inviting Israeli delegates. The protest was a symbolic protest. I do not get why it has been made a big issue. They are students after all.”
While some students took the administration’s side saying “There are students in the campus who are rebellious. No institution would tolerate obnoxious behavior with the administration. As for the manhandling, nothing is one-sided.”
Is it about the rights of students or the abuse of power by the administration? Is it about causing unnecessary havoc over the conference or seeking political recognition? Is it about voicing or suppressing? Let us know your opinion in the comment section.
-TASNEEM ZAHRA, B.A. (HONS) ENGLISH, JAMIA MILLIA ISLAMIA