Palestine flags were raised at the Jamia Millia Islamia University during protests against the issuance of show-cause notices by the college administration in response to protests over Israeli participation in an event at the University. The students were protesting after the “Global Health Zenith: Confluence’19” was organised by the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics in collaboration with Israel as a country partner.
The protests were organised by Leftist organisations such as AISA. The Jamia Millia Islamia University had issued show-cause notices to five students for protesting against allowing an Israeli participant in the event on the campus. Later the notices were withdrawn after the five students submitted their response. In addition, the authorities announced that going forward, no Israeli participation will be permitted during events. “We assure that if any Isareli delegate participates in any programme, we will not allow,” the varsity said.
A scuffle also broke out between the students during the protests. However, it was blamed on the administration. “Protest is our democratic right. The university administration issued show-cause notices to some students who were protesting in a democratic manner. We were protesting against the notice and were attacked by few people under the direction of the university administration,” Mukund Thakur, a student, told ANI.
“The protest has been going on for quite a few days now. The students were attacked by a few people from outside the university. For the India-Palestine relation to remain good, representatives of Israel are not welcomed on the Jamia campus,” another student Fazal Akbar Khan said.
However, one of our sources who happens to be a student at the college told us on condition of anonymity that the scuffle between the students had nothing to do with the administration. We were also told that protests continued even after the administration assured that the show-cause notices would be withdrawn.
On the 22nd of October, the protesting students gheraoed the VC office and prevented anyone from leaving the campus. There was a conference going on at the time with several senior dignitaries present. Some of them were old and suffered from health issues such as diabetes and the like and even they were not being allowed to leave.
Eventually, one of the senior ladies present broke down into tears while requesting them to permit her to leave due to her health issues. Then, some of the students approached those who were preventing her from leaving and demanded that she be allowed to go. However, these students were attacked by the mob and they were forced to retaliate in self-distance. In the ensuing scuffle, numerous students on both sides suffered injuries. However, the blame for this internal feud was placed on the college administration and it was claimed that one faction was sent by the authorities to attack the protesting students.
On the 23rd, Palestine flags were put up across the entire campus of Jamia Millia Islamia. Subsequently, the Police arrived and the demand that henceforth, no Israeli delegation would be permitted into the University was accepted by authorities. It was seen as a victory by the protesting students. However, of the demands that were made, none concerned the students who were injured during the scuffle, some of whom had to be admitted to hospitals. It disgruntled a faction of the protesters, our source told us, and this disgruntled bunch continued with the protest.
Late into the night, this faction beat up some students of the other faction. We are told that some of the internal feuds are also fueled by the fact that there was considerable disagreement within the protesting students regarding the raising of Palestinian flags on the campus. Some believed that it was a step too far and at the end of the day, Jamia Millia Islamia is a government-funded institution.
Our source’s version of events appears consistent with the statements made by university public relations officer Ahmed Azeem. “Today a group of students backed by some student organisations gheraoed the vice-chancellor’s office, besieged the office complex and blocked all exit gates,” he said.
“A number of delegates attending a conference on Mahatma Gandhi at the English department were not allowed to move out of the administrative complex. When English students tried to help the delegates take out their vehicles, protesting students stopped them and a scuffle broke out between the two groups. The protesting students also damaged vehicles parked in the complex,” he added.