Jamia students on hunger strike over holding student union elections, officials remain mute spectators

By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCirles.net

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New Delhi: The demand for a student union in Jamia Millia Islamia has grown more vocal and students are holding regular protest demonstrations against the University administration to press their demands.

On Wednesday, October 25, two MPhil students, Meeran Haider and Naqi Mohammad, one MA student Shamsee Mustafa and BA student Imran Ahmad went on 24-hour hunger strike at gate number seven of the University.

After taking out a march on Wednesday inside the campus, students went on hunger strike for holding the student union election at the earliest. The students have given a 24 hours deadline to the University officials to fulfill the demand.The deadline will end at 7 pm on Thursday.

“The condition of students on hunger strike is very bad. Their health is deteriorating. Imran was taken to hospital this afternoon. Shamsee Mustafa needs medical care at the earliest. But unfortunately, none from the University have come to meet us till now,” said Ateseb Maaz Khan, a student leader.

Another protesting student Aatir Ashraf said that University is playing a two sided game with student. “They are just misleading the students. It is our democratic right to hold student elections and almost every University out there has student unions.”

In the second week of March earlier this year, JMI drafted a constitution to hold an election for Jamia Student Council (JSC) instead of Jamia Student union, which was banned way back in 2006.

The draft mooted for a council of students, which would include only class representatives (CR), one elected and one selected from each course and who will only have the power to nominate the office bearers and vote.

The University had even issued the schedule for the election in the third week of March according to which polling was supposed to take place on March 30.

However, as the news of council spread in the campus, hundreds of students started protesting against the move and termed it as the “dummy body”. The student instead demanded a democratic student union instead of the proposed student council. The protest reached the corridors of Vice-Chancellor of the University after which he was forced to postpone the proposed elections.

Since then the struggle for having a student union in Jamia has been vigorously pursued.

Until 2006, JMI used to have student union which the University dissolved without giving a reason. Later the ban was attributed to “undue interference” of the union in the administrative affairs of the University.

In the 2012, three students filed a petition before Delhi High Court seeking to quash the 2006 decision of the central University to ban elections to the students union and holding the elections.

Later in 2012, the JMI informed the Delhi High Court that an experimental attempt could be made for holding elections to the students’ union, but it was never attempted.

JMI issued a clarification on October 23rd after obtaining the official documents of the Writ Petition No.917/2012 titled “Hamidur Rahman Vs. JMI” from the High Court of Delhi.

“A group of nine students have intervened in the Writ Petition and filed an application dated February 2012 praying to present their case in the larger academic interest of Jamia. In paragraph 9 of the said application, these students have opposed any direction system of elections in the Jamia Millia Islamia. This application was admitted on record by the High Court of Delhi,” JMI said.

“Subsequently, on the direction of the High Court in February 2012, the Jamia Millia Islamia thereafter has filed an Affidavit in April 2012. The High Court in July 2012 has given an opportunity to the Petitioner to file his response. The High Court in November 2012 has given another opportunity to file the response, but the Petitioner has failed to file his response and the Hon’ble  High Court put this matter as a Regular Matter in 2013,” JMI added.

Jamia also said that the matter is sub judice and any interim action on the part of the University or parties concerned will amount to contempt of Court.The University has also said that it is ready to consider holding students’ union election depending on the outcome of the case.