Ten women students of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU) in Jammu have been threatened and made to sign an apology letter for questioning the administration’s imposition of hostel curfew.
This comes in continuation of an unrest that started in September 2017, when the university administration tried to build an additional gate outside the already existing hostel gate.
“Since the vice-chancellor (VC) Sanjeev Jain had justified the move by calling it “samajik rule”, we pointed out the UGC regulation of 2016 which clearly directs universities and colleges to not restrict the mobility of women students in the name of safety. But the VC said he was not aware of such a regulation,” one of the blacklisted students told Newslaundry.
On September 28, students submitted a petition with 250 signatures of women hostellers, quoting all the binding UGC regulations regarding the matter. “However, the authorities have neither responded nor made any effort to have a dialogue with the students who had submitted the petition,” said another student, requesting anonymity.
Although the administration stalled the move to build another gate, they enforced a set of stringent rules on women students, including that they have to sign a register for every exit and entry to the hostel. Challenging this rule, around ten female students wrote “Pinjra Tod- break the hostel locks” in the register, where they were supposed to sign while leaving the hostel premises.
As a response to the students’ creative protest, the administration sent a notice to ten students on Monday, saying “such behaviour is not at all acceptable to the hostel authorities and if we repeat it, it would call for strict disciplinary action to the level of suspension”.
The notice also asked students to report for a meeting with the Dean of Students (DoS) on Tuesday. “DoS Yugul Khajuria threatened us with suspension or punishment if we didn’t sign the apology letter. Since none of us can afford expulsion from the college, we wrote and signed the apology,” said one of the students who wished to be anonymous.
“During the meeting, when we asked the DoS why there were no such rules for the boys’ hostel, he said ‘don’t compare yourself with boys’,” another student said.
“This is just one of the many oppressive rules by the administration. If we want to go home, we need to get a gate pass signed from department heads and the hostel warden. And most of the time, the HoDs don’t sign gate passes,” she added.
Newslaundry reached out to the DoS to know his version. When asked about the UGC regulation, Khajuria said: “Jammu and Kashmir is a threat state and the UGC doesn’t know about it. What if some terror attack happens suddenly? We need to make sure our students are safe.”
When asked why they don’t have the same concern for boys, he said there are rules for the boys’ hostels as well. “But, unlike girls, boys will jump hostel walls,” he added. Asked why they were not being served notices, he said: “Are you saying we should allow our girls to roam around and drink like boys? We can’t allow that.”