Safoora Zargar threatened with expulsion; JMI acting'vengefully’ alleges students.

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In threatening to refuse Safoora Zargar’s admission, the administration of Jamia Millia Islamia University has come under fire from student organisations for allegedly acting “arbitrary” and “vengefully.” Zargar is a student activist who was imprisoned during the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.

Students charged the Jamia Millia Islamia administration with disregarding “any humanitarian and legal grounds available” to grant Zargar an extension to deliver her MPhil dissertation in a statement signed by more than half a dozen organisations.

The All India Revolutionary Students Organization (AIRSO), All India Students Association (AISA), Camus Front of India (CFI), Fraternity Movement, Muslim Students Federation (MSF), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Students Federation of India (SFI), and Students Islamic Organization were among the student organisations that signed the statement (SIO)

Zargar claimed on Wednesday that the JMI administration was forcing her to “go from pillar to post for extensions that are simply offered to other professors” in a tweet. She added that despite her pregnancy and the inconveniences brought on by Covid-19, she was only given one extension despite the University Grants Commission (UGC) having granted five because to the pandemic. During the April 2020 CAA protests, Zargar was detained. She was let out of prison in June 2020.

The full statement by the student organisations is below:

Safoora zargar, a women research scholar enrolled in an integrated M.phil/PhD program at the department of sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, is being threatened with cancellation of her admission. She enrolled in the programme in February 2019 and completed 3 years in February 2022. As per ordinances, she can be given an additional year of extension available to women scholars, which she has been denied on the grounds of unsatisfactory progress. Earlier, she has also been denied covid-19 extension which can be given to scholars in accordance with the norms laid down by the UGC as well as Jamia Millia Islamia. Safoora’s supervisor and the department have been hostile towards her requests terming her rightful requests as ‘adamancy’ and ‘rudeness’. Her emails to the registrar and the VC have remained unanswered.

The student community strongly condemns this relentless harassment and unfair treatment of a research scholar who has also faced a brutal witch-hunt and smear campaign by the state after the CAA-NRC protest.

During the covid-19 pandemic, the students’ community faced tremendous disruptions research work came to a standstill as universities were shut down completely. keeping this in mind, the UGC has granted not one but five consecutive covid-19 extensions since 2020. this vengeful action against a women scholar who went through a pregnancy during the pandemic and still managed to do her fieldwork and complete all requirements of the course is highly condemnable instead of providing all possible support to such a woman scholar the department and the university have indulged in despicable behaviour and in the most unjust and vengeful actions, for reasons best known to the department and her supervisor.

It is clear that despite all humanitarian and legal grounds available to grant her extension and subsequently allow her to submit an M.phil dissertation, the department is acting arbitrarily and revengefully. She is clearly being targeted for her political opinions and for her dissent in and outside the university.

We stand in full and unflinching solidarity with Safoora Zargar and demand that she be granted an extension and allowed to submit her dissertation. The delay that has happened in granting her extension must also be condoned.

We reiterate that the student community, especially research scholars will not allow this injustice to take place under any circumstances. We also demand all the civil society, community, and democratic groups to stand in solidarity with safoora zargar and come out against the department, and university’s targeting of a research scholar.

Mayank Tewari

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