New Delhi: Advising the girl students to be “more interactive” and “show willingness to participate in hostel activities,” the administration of Jamia Millia Islamia University has served show cause notices to at least 60 women hostel residents of Begum Hazrat Mahal Girls’ Hostel. The notice asks them to explain their “long absence from the hostel” with warning of disciplinary action for “any complaint of misconduct, rude behaviour and frequent absence from the hostel.” 

Incidentally, these show cause notices have come two weeks after the university students protested against the administration’s diktat to women hostel residents to ensure participation in an event presided over by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar. The students, who wrote an ‘open letter’ to the Union Minister, had expressed their displeasure at his visit and told him that he’s not welcome on the campus.  

Alleging that the university is “deliberately targeting” the hostel residents for using their “right to protest”, the students have termed the show cause notices as a tool to “stifle dissent” on the campus. 

b’Source: ScoopWhoop’

“I am very upset with the show cause notice. There was no prior warning before the notice was issued in my name. I am being targeted for not attending Mr. Javadekar’s event. Apart from not participating in competitions like ‘salad making’, there’s not a single complaint against me,” Sumbul Mashhadi, a Jamia student who’s one of the 380 residents of hostel, told ScoopWhoop News. 

According to students, show cause notices have also been issued to those who participated in the HRD Minister’s event.  

Provost of the hostel, Prof. Baran Farooqi could not be reached for comment as she was on official leave. 

“Three kind of show cause notices have been served; firstly, to those who have been absent beyond 50 days in a year excluding summer and winter vacations, secondly, to the students who have been found involved in misconduct and rude behaviour, and thirdly, the students who have shown very little interest in cultural and hostel activities during the previous year,” a university official, who was not authorized to speak to media, told ScoopWhoop News.

Denying the allegations of the students for targeting them over Javadekar’s event, varsity officials said the process of show cause notices is common during the hostel renewal process which falls during this time of the year. The officials also said the students are issued warnings during the interview process for hostel renewal. 

b’Source: ScoopWhoop’

However, Mashhadi denied receiving any warning when she applied for the hostel renewal. 

According to the official, the thrust on participation in cultural and hostel activities in the hostel stems from the administration’s urge of having a “lively and interactive” atmosphere on the campus. 

“We arrange counselling sessions and bring different kinds of motivational speakers for various events for the betterment of students. However, most of the times we are left embarrassed when the girls don’t show up. Even if they don’t want to participate, we just want them to be a good audience,” the official added. 

Although Jamia has an estimated enrollment figure of 18,000 students – both boys and girls – the hostel facility is available for only 3,000-4000 students. 

b’Source: PTI/File’

“The administration equates dissent with misconduct and rude behaviour. Adding to that is the usual blackmail over hostels. In Jamia, the administration thinks of hostel as privilege which every student cannot have. It allows them to put extensive limits on the freedom of students and not just dissent, but the independent opinion. Having a mind of one’s own is discouraged and criminalized,” Dhrupadi Ghosh, a member of DISSC (Dayar-i-Shauq Students Charter), a Leftist group active on the campus, told ScoopWhoop News. 

“The girls are required to participate in cooking and dancing competitions and the administration can’t tolerate a no. There’s a complete lack of empathy on the part of administration. They need to understand that girls have the right of choice and decision,” Ghosh added. 

On the part of administration, the show cause notice is “just an explanation call” through which a student is required to state his/her position. 

“It’s not a warning. We just want the students to explain why they were absent or what’s the reason of their conduct? They can have valid reasons and proof. We’ll address them accordingly,” the official added. 

Feature image source: PTI