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Mum’s the word

Barely three months after curfew timings were extended, the administration of Jamia Milia Islamia has issued stricter guidelines that aim to muffle female hostellers

Nearly 250 women students from Jamia Millia Islamia have written an open letter to Vice Chancellor Talat Ahmad following the imposition of new hostel curfew timings and guidelines. In the letter that was handed over to the VC on July 3, the students have demanded a response from the college administration within the next 72 hours.

The new guidelines issued to students on June 27, before the beginning of the semester, have changed the curfew timings from 10.30 pm to 9 pm. In March 2018, the students from JMI’s girls’ hostel had led a campaign against unfair curfew timings for female students in the name of their “safety”. The campaign had compelled the administration to change the curfew timings from 8 pm to 10.30 pm.

Nearly 250 women students from Jamia Millia Islamia have written an open letter to Vice Chancellor Talat Ahmad following the imposition of new hostel curfew timings and guidelines. In the letter that was handed over to the VC on July 3, the students have demanded a response from the college administration within the next 72 hours.

The new guidelines issued to students on June 27, before the beginning of the semester, have changed the curfew timings from 10.30 pm to 9 pm. In March 2018, the students from JMI’s girls’ hostel had led a campaign against unfair curfew timings for female students in the name of their “safety”. The campaign had compelled the administration to change the curfew timings from 8 pm to 10.30 pm.

Not just curfew timings, the hostel re-admission form for 2018-2019 also restrains students from indulging in any protest or signature campaign against hostel rules, regulations or timing. It further states that if the student fails to abide by the said terms, then the student’s hostel accommodation can be cancelled immediately.

“The move is clearly an attempt to scare off students,” a third-year mass media student told Newslaundry, on conditions of anonymity. She added, “The girls are anyway reluctant to take part in signature campaigns, with this they will not be able to take part in protests anymore.”

The undertaking also states that inter-hostel gates would be closed by 11.30 pm, which would mean that the students will then be confined to their respective hostels. The undertaking also restricts students from using washing machines beyond 11 pm. Earlier there were no such restrictions, an economics student who does not wish to be named told Newslaundry.

The guidelines have left many on the campus outraged. Saima Hasan, a third year psychology student says, “The move by the administration is a complete breach of trust as they went back on their promise of extending the curfew.” Commenting on the future of the protests she said, “We are not backing down, the protests will be bigger, leaving no scope for the administration to get away with unfair policies.”

The guidelines seem to aim to control the freedom of movement of the young students and their bodily autonomy in the garb of protecting them, students have said.

Pinjra Tod, a collective that was at the centre of the agitation last semester, said in a statement that the move is “in complete violation of the fundamental rights to dissent and protest”. Pinjra Tod has called it an “an outright attack against the protests that happened last semester on 19th March”.

The organisation in their statement also pointed to the fact that no such rules exist for men on the campus. These guidelines then are aimed at criminalising the voices of resistance and marginalising the women on the campus, the statement reads.
To understand the rationale behind the new curfew timings, Newslaundry spoke to Jamia’s hostel warden as well. The warden Farheen has stated that the guidelines were issued by the higher authorities, and that “this move is supported by many parents as well as students.”

Demanding equal access to university space, women students of the university have refused to bow down and are planning a protest once the university re-opens on the July 15 if they do not receive a positive response from the VC’s office.
The Vice Chancellor did not replay to questions till the time these pages went to press.

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