Jamia Students want DU, JNU Type Elections

Shiv Sunny

If Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University can have students’ union elections, so should Jamia Millia Islamia. This is the perception of an overwhelming number of students and teachers at the university, who feel JMI is being run as a “constituency and not as a university”. 

Elections were last held at the university way back in 2006, and the body was dissolved within three months and elections banned on the campus.

While the university administration has maintained that elections will be held when the “environment is conductive for such elections”, students say their rights have been trampled upon in the absence of it. Those advocating elections report harassment at the hands of the authorities.

Jamia Students want DU, JNU Type Elections“No one dares to speak about this issue openly on the campus. Those who organise seminars or speak about campus democracy, their identity cards are checked and the targeted individuals are not allowed to give their exams,” says a student of the university who does not want to be named. In fact, the student does not want even his department to be named for fear of being tracked down.

In the absence of elections, the university has in place representation of students at the departmental level. The body has two students from each class, but has a teacher attached as an advisor. But students allege that this body is toothless as they are limited to organising lectures and co-curricular activities.

“Would these class representatives raise a voice if course fees or mess fees are raised? They will be hunted if they ever try to do that,” says Afroz Alam Sahil, an RTI activist and a former student of the university. As a student, he had petitioned the administration numerous times in this regard, filed RTIs, but to no avail.

“The university is being run like a semi-jail, a kind of ghetto. Even distribution of pamphlets is not allowed on the campus. It is either done secretly within the campus or outside. In this process, new, intelligent and free-thinking leaders who could emerge from Jamia, are being nipped in the bud,” says Sandeep Singh, president of All India Students’ Association, which has held numerous campaigns for holding elections.

Similar feelings are echoed by some professors of the university. M S Bhatt, senior economics professor at JMI, says he is able to easily tackle difficult questions related to his subject that are posed to him by his students. But when they confront him on why they are denied their rights to have student union elections, Bhatt, who is also president of Jamia Teachers’ Association, has no answers.

“The fears of the administration are unfounded. Recently, poll violence was reported from Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College. Did they ban elections at DU for that? Can you really stop anti-social elements from going to Parliament? Every institution has an inbuilt mechanism to control indiscipline of any kind. Banning elections is no solution,” says Bhatt.

The administration shows highhandedness at the slightest pretext, he adds. “Recently, when the mess bills were increased by almost 30 per cent, some students raised their voice against it. Instead of listening to their grievances and addressing it, they were either expelled, fined or kicked out from the hostel citing various reasons,” he says.

But another professor, who also does not want to be identified, says it is generally the non-student elements who rule the roost at these elections. “Since elections are not fought on party basis in Jamia, a handful of local goons aspire to make it big in politics, using the campus polls as a platform. That is a primary reason the environment is not conductive for elections here.” He, however, agrees that democracy should prevail at the university.

Bhatt says the administration wants total peace at Jamia and for that they do not permit debates, discussion or dissent. “The university is being seen as a law and order problem, not as an educational institution,” he says. (Courtesy:


Most Popular

To Top

Enable BeyondHeadlines to raise the voice of marginalized


Donate now to support more ground reports and real journalism.

Donate Now

Subscribe to email alerts from BeyondHeadlines to recieve regular updates