New Delhi: After facing protests over an official notification that made it compulsory for all the residents of girls' hostel in Jamia Millia Islamia University to attend an event presided over by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, the university authorities on Wednesday morning withdrew their earlier notification and 'cordially invited' the students to be part of the event.
"Dear Residents, Please note that the notice dated September 21, 2016, stands withdrawn with immediate effect. You are cordially invited to attend the Inaugural Function of the Hostel being organized at Ansari Auditorium at 3:00 PM today. Honourable Union Minister, Human Resource Development, Mr. Prakash Javadekar will preside," a notice issued by Provost Professor Baran Farooqi on Wednesday said.
The fresh notice was in reaction to an earlier notice issued by the Provost on September 21 regarding Javadekar's visit. The notice had asked all the students "who have not yet proceeded on leave...to be present in the hostel 1 pm onwards" on the day of Union Minister's visit.
"You are informed that there will be strict observance of attendance that day and you will be penalised if not found present. We have to put our best foot forward," the September 21 notice read.
The notice had drawn criticism from girl students who sent out an open letter to the minister telling him he is not welcome in the campus.
"The announcement of your visit has also been accompanied by numerous changes in the already regressive rules of the hostel, as even stricter restrictions have been imposed to regulate the mobility of women residents. The hostel administration is keen to adhere to your government's ideology of repressing and controlling women's freedom. In the light of your visit, we have been told that we are not allowed to take any kind of leave from 26th September to 28th September. Also it has been made compulsory for all the residents to attend the event and to behave like 'good girls'," the letter signed by women hostellers of Jamia Millia Islamia University read.
The letter also accused the University administration and the BJP-ruled central government of repressing student voices and having an anti-women attitude.
The protests from the students has apparently led to a last-minute change in the administration's decision resulting in cancellation of the earlier notification by the provost.
"The notice from the administration reeked of authoritarian attitude. Why was it compulsory for a student to skip classes and attend an event of a politician? The administration has now done a U-turn from its earlier threatening notice but we would have attended the event anyway as we don't want university sending us show-cause notices. They might throw us out of the hostel," a girl student who resides in the university hostel told ScoopWhoop News. She refused to give her name.
While the Union Minister visited the campus on Wednesday, various student outfits in the campus put up posters against the minister's visit, asking students to rise against the HRD Minister's visit. However, despite protests, most of the hostel residents attended the event although with reservations.
"I couldn't afford to skip the event as it might invite reprisals from the varsity. I don't want to be targeted for raising my voice. It's better to accept the administration's view and move on," a woman hosteller who attended the event told ScoopWhoop News.
A girl hostel resident, who skipped the event, said: "We want a democratic space in the university where we can voice dissent and talk about issues in the country. Nearly 85 per cent students of Jamia have no hostel facilities and most of them come from poor backgrounds and other states. Despite surveillance and censorship from the administration, we are fighting for our rights and we will continue to challenge the anti-woman and patriarchal attitude of the university and this government."
When contacted, Provost Baran Farooqi acknowledged that the earlier notification was withdrawn. However, she refused to give reasons behind the change in decision and asked this reporter to contact the university's media cell.
Denying the apprehensions of the students, the university media cell informed ScoopWhoop News that the event "went well and the students enjoyed the interaction with the Union Minister."
"It's all rubbish. The students gave a big round of applause to Mister Javadekar and keenly listened to what he said. They also participated in large numbers and lauded his efforts for the university," Saima Saeed, a Member of Jamia Millia's Media Cell told ScoopWhoop News.