Thursday, April 18, 2024

Jamia Millia Islamia cancels student leader Safoora Zargar’s MPhil admission

Jamia Millia Islamia on Monday, 29 August, cancelled the MPhil admission of student activist Safoora Zargar.

“The usually snail-paced Jamia admin moving at light speed to cancel my admission, foregoing all due process,” tweeted Zargar.

“Let it be known, it breaks my heart but not my spirit,” she added.

Zargar last week said to Maktoob that the Department of Sociology in Jamia Millia Islamia has been threatening to cancel her Mphil admission in a “discriminatory” move.

The 29-year-old Muslim activist had claimed that her application for an extension of MPhil thesis submission has been put on hold for over eight months.

Zargar’s MPhil, which she began in February 2019, looks into “socio-spatial segregation among Muslims in Delhi. A case study of Ghaffar Manzil Colony”.

She works under associate professor Kulwinder Kaur and completed three years in February 2022, with one COVID extension and a normal extension available for all scholars.

In December 2021, Zargar submitted an application for a COVID extension, in which the department only granted two months — till February 2022.

When the department verbally declined to forward her application for a full six-month extension, as per the University Grants Commission notification, she wrote to the registrar, which she believe bothered her supervisor.

In May 2022, UGC declared that universities and higher educational institutions can give another extension of up to six months beyond 30 June for MPhil or PhD thesis submission on a case-to-case basis after reviewing a student’s work. This was the fifth COVID extension granted to research scholars.

The first extension was granted in June 2020 and extended further every six months due to prevailing the COVID-19 situation.

According to Zargar, the department officials told her that she was not eligible for any more COVID extensions, as she once took an extension.

“It defeats the entire purpose of the relief given by UGC. COVID have been here for two years and that is why there were consecutive extensions,” points out Zargar.

Zargar described her experience as “traumatic” and claims that she has faced lots of verbal abuse from the department in the last two years.

“They have told me that because of students like me, the Department of Sociology is blacklisted,” Zargar said.

“They have called me a Dengai [rioter] but in official records, they say I have not shown any progress.”

Zargar feels that she has been singled out for her political activism which has drawn lots of attention.

She was jailed under UAPA charges in April 2020 in the 2020 Delhi pogrom conspiracy case and was released under humanitarian bail due to her pregnancy and ongoing pandemic.

Human rights bodies and civil groups condemned the arrest and rallied for her release. She was one of the frontline protesters against India’s anti-Muslim citizenship law.

After coming out of jail and amidst her pregnancy, the department asked Zargar to take maternity leave but she declined and when on with her research.

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