Skip to main content

Denial of right to continue study to student-activist 'contradicts' the idea of Jamia

Counterview Desk 

Over 150 feminist activists, individuals and groups have come together to appeal to the Vice Chancellor and Faculty Committee of the Jamia Millia Islamia to revoke the cancellation of student-activist Safoora Zargar’s admission, and to allow her to submit her MPhil thesis. Safoora acquired prominence during the anti-Citizenship Ammendment Act (CAA) protests that rocked Delhi in early 2020.
In custody from 10 April until 24 June 2020, Safoora was accused of being part of a conspiracy to cause riots, of making an inflammatory speech, and of being involved in a "sinister design" with the "objective of uprooting a democratically elected government." She was granted bail by the Delhi High Court and released on 24 June 2020.
The statement, floated by the civil rights group Saheli Women's Resource Centre, says, the cancellation of Safoora's admission comes despite the fact that extensions have been granted unconditionally to research scholars en masse by the UGC because of the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21. First she was asked to apply for an extension specifically for women scholars, but now she has even been denied that on the grounds that her work is ‘unsatisfactory.’
"This is in direct contradiction to earlier evaluations where she was told that she had 'made good headway' with her research", the statement says, underlining, "The bedrock of Jamia Millia Islamia has always been dialogue and progressive politics, Safoora’s values belong to that progressive idea of the university as an intellectual space. To deny her education in that very university seems to go against the fundamental values of such an esteemed institution."


We, the undersigned women’s rights activists and women’s groups, are dismayed at the denial of the routine extensions to Safoora Zargar to complete her MPhil degree.
Safoora needs no introduction. She is a student activist who gained prominence during the anti-CAA movement, and has been targeted for standing up for the right to peaceful protest and dissent, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Instead of standing by her through what have been several extremely challenging years for Safoora, and supporting her to finish her degree, the university has systematically denied her the rights routinely extended to all other students.
All women have to struggle in a brahminical patriarchal society to access education, the struggle increases manifold when the woman belongs to a marginalised community which has been increasingly under attack by the State. While the persecution of the Muslim community in India is making international headlines, Indian society and the State continue to deny it, on the one hand, and enable increased intolerance and discrimination, on the other. Being a Muslim woman activist who stood for the constitutional rights of not only her community but also of society, Safoora has suffered incarceration and multiple attacks, both politically and personally. The horror of what tomorrow might bring for her, continues to haunt her at every moment.
To add to her suffering, Jamia Millia has denied extensions to complete her degree in the Department of Sociology. These have been granted unconditionally to research scholars en masse by the UGC because of the havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21. Since the universities and departments were shut down, and access to libraries closed off, all research scholars were granted multiple extensions. Yet Safoora was deemed ineligible for more than one extension without any legitimate justification.
She was subsequently asked to apply for an extension specifically for women scholars. Now she has even been denied that on the grounds that her work is ‘unsatisfactory.’ This is in direct contradiction to earlier evaluations where she was told that she had “made good headway” with her research and that she had “identified the categories and concepts through which to articulate (her) research topic”.
A Muslim woman who stood for constitutional rights, Safoora has suffered incarceration and multiple attacks politically and personally
It is commendable that Safoora has managed to meet work deadlines through her pregnancy, incarceration and childbirth, despite the severe mental duress she is undergoing as someone being prosecuted on unfair grounds. We fail to understand why her repeated pleas and rightful asks have gone unanswered, and why she is being discriminated against when extensions have been approved by the UGC and have been provided to all research scholars across the board. The discrimination shown by the department and the university adds to the violence that she has already been through, and continues to undergo in both online and offline spaces.
Education is not only about degrees, but about learning, growing, and nurturing of minds. However, we are all too aware that universities have routinely functioned as spaces of exclusion, be it by way of caste, gender, class, religion, sexuality or any other marginalised identity. The bedrock of Jamia Millia Islamia university has always been dialogue and progressive politics, Safoora’s values belong to that progressive idea of the university as an intellectual space. To deny her education in that very university seems to go against the fundamental values of such an esteemed institution.
Today, after all her attempts to seek fair treatment were denied within the Sociology department, Safoora has petitioned the Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, for justice.
We unequivocally stand with her and join our voices to her appeal to the Vice Chancellor and the faculty committee to revoke the cancellation of her admission and grant her the rightful extension as a woman scholar and allow her to submit her thesis and complete the requirements of her MPhil degree.
This grave injustice on Safoora Zargar must be undone immediately.
Click here for signatories



Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

Why Bose's India Gate statue suggests RSS, BJP need violence-loving ‘Hindu’ Netaji

By Prem Singh*  In a TV channel debate, a BJP spokesperson and anchor shared and served a lie that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter in her letter to the Prime Minister has alleged that the Congress kept devaluing Netaji to further Gandhi's non-violence; because Netaji had taken the path of liberating the country through violence mode by forming the Azad Hind Fauj (INA). They also praised the Bombay Royal Naval Mutiny of 1946 to confirm that the country got its independence through a violent route. I stated that I have read the letter of Netaji's daughter, and there is no such allegation in it. But a lie told in the intoxication of power is bound to be blatant. Netaji's daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, even in the past, has already requested some earlier prime ministers of the country to bring back the mortal remains of her father from Japan to India. In none of the letters she has spoken about devaluation of her father’s role in the freedom movement on the basis of Gandh

'Massive concern for people': Modi seeking to turn India into global manufacturing hub

By Shankar Sharma*  The news item quoting Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, "Want to turn India into a manufacturing hub: PM Modi at SCO Summit" should be of massive concern to our people. One can only continue to be shocked by such policies, which can be termed as ill-conceived to say the least. Without objectively considering the environmental and social impacts on our communities in the medium to long term, such policies will also result in massive economic impacts because a lack of environmental and social perspective cannot be economically attractive either. In order to become the global manufacturing hub, India will have to meet an enormous demand for energy of various kinds, and in order to meet this much energy demand the economy has to manufacture enormous number of appliances/ gadgets/ machineries (to generate and distribute commercial forms of energy such as coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, and renewable energy (RE) sources such as so

Pesticide companies' lobbying 'seriously impairing' basics of governance, regulation

Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi*  The Indian agricultural sector is grappling with low incomes, shortage of natural resources, increasing pest incidence and low public investments in research and extension. Pest attacks are increasing. Previously unknown pests are attacking crops. Farmers, indebted as they are due to various market mechanisms, are finding it hard to protect their crop investments. Thus, farmers are pushed into the conundrum of pesticide usage by pesticide markets and companies. Pesticide usage in India is increasingly becoming a regulatory problem. Regulation has not been effective in the face of such challenges. Scientific expertise on pesticides is often subsumed in the policy tradeoffs that, in the ultimate scenario, encourage production and marketing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Expert Committee reports, which are recommending withdrawal of certain HHPs, are not being acted upon. Lobbying by pesticide companies has seriously impaired the basics of governance an

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Is coal import dependence of more than 50% by 2047 of any relevance to India?

By Shankar Sharma*  I have read the article " Building Resilience in India’s Power Sector " by N Vedachalam, released by the Observer Research Foundation, with a lot of interest. I expected it to provide few useful recommendations to our authorities in charting out a sustainable pathway to green energy transition much before the climate catastrophe push our communities to the precipice. But I am sorry to say that the overall discussions or the message implied in the article disappointed me. I was expecting the article, coming from an engineer with past experience in the power sector, to discuss the much needed recommendations to put the power sector on a sustainable developmental pathway. But I could notice mostly technical jargon and a lot of statistical information, which may already be available in the public domain.   The article also seems to have simply accepted what some of the official agencies seem to have indicated as inevitable for the power sector in our country;

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.