TOP Central universities that saw campus protests and police action discussed ways Tuesday to enforce discipline and drew a distinction between students “interested” in academics and “rowdy elements” with a different “mindset” and vested interests. Organised by Jamia Millia Islamia, the webinar, “Discipline in Universities,” saw participation by Jamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Hamdard.
Chief Guest Najma Akhtar, Jamia Vice-Chancellor, who last December had been critical of police action on her campus, on Tuesday praised the police. She said that, traditionally, the responsibility to keep the peace on campus was that of the university administration but now the police are involved as well.
“It is happy to see the role of police has changed drastically in recent years. Before, or after the problem, they are friends of the students…They know how to handle (the problem) in a more humanistic way. So they are no longer feared by students,” she said. Akhtar said the police “cultivate friendship and relationship at all levels” and are “softer” than before.
Jamia students faced police action twice last December during the anti-CAA protests. On December 13, police used lathi-charge and teargas during a march in which around 25 students were injured. Two days later, police had entered the campus library. While police claimed they were in “hot pursuit” of rioters, students said they were beaten up on campus. More than 100 injuries, apart from property damage of Rs 2.66 crore, was reported.
Akhtar added: “By discipline, universities never mean illogical rigidity, irrational and lifeless imposition of rules… We have to create an atmosphere of love and respect rather than fear on our campuses.”
But for Jamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmad Khan, students who show “indiscipline” have a “different mindset and have nothing to do with their studies” and steps should be taken to curb their “deviant behaviour”. Jamia Registrar A P Siddiqui said there were “very few problem creators” and called for maintaining a “file which speaks of their activities.”
“We should not punish everybody but target those who are motivated from a different angle,” he said, adding that some students had “godfathers” outside the campus.
On unrest over “hostel curfew,” Siddiqui said that girls and boys should be treated the same way.
JNU Chief Proctor Dhananjay Singh said a “serious challenge” was how the JNU campus was becoming a “space to initiate and launch political agendas”. Singh called for stronger connections with the students – and the police.
“No university campus would like the police to intervene and take over. But we are not capable, as teachers and administrators, to deal with serious law and order situations. So it’s important to have more interactions with the police,” he said.
Mohd Wasim Ali, Chief Proctor of AMU, advocated “segregation” of certain students. “Criminals, rowdy elements should not have any place in universities or colleges. They have a different mindset and are not interested in studies…It is the prime duty of the university administration to ensure that they are marginalised, segregated and kept out of the campus at any cost.”
Ali, however, expressed concern that AMU could see further unrest when the university reopens as many students who didn’t have a single “blemish” on their record have found themselves charge-sheeted and named in FIRs related to protests against the new citizenship law.
BHU Chief Proctor O P Rai said the “new youth is less exposed to scolding and beating” and, therefore, there was a “problem in how to handle them”.
He said the campus administration should “identify persons who are breaking rules, isolate them and take strict action so that it demotivates others”. He added that students needed to be dealt with “softly.”
In the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) university rankings 2020, JNU, BHU, Jamia and AMU had ranked 2, 3, 10 and 17 respectively.