Activist Safoora Zargar is facing imminent cancellation of her admission to Jamia Millia’s department of sociology, which the university has attributed to “unsatisfactory progress” in her dissertation work. Zargar, 29, is an accused in the main conspiracy case in the Northeast Delhi riots and was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Since 2019, Zargar has been enrolled with Jamia’s department of sociology in their integrated MPhil and PhD programme. She has alleged that the university is preventing her from submitting her thesis. According to the university administration, this is because she did not complete her dissertation before the expiry of her third extension, which came to an end on February 6, 2022.
Zargar has alleged that this is an attempt to “disrupt her education” and that she has been denied extensions by the university to complete her MPhil. “Since December 2021, I have been made to run from pillar to post for extensions that are easily given to other scholars in the university… While UGC has granted five consecutive Covid extensions, I have been given only one. I was forced to apply for extension under the women scholar category, only to be denied after months citing ‘unsatisfactory progress’. My mails to the Registrar and VC remain unanswered. This is in clear violation of the guidelines laid down by the UGC and points to the malafide intentions of the Supervisor and the department,” she stated.
The university has countered this by stating that she had not applied for an extension as a woman scholar on time. In its response, it stated that MPhil dissertations are required to be submitted after three semesters and that she was given the university’s maximum provision of two semesters and an additional Covid extension of a semester in line with the UGC.
“The scholar despite, the advice by her Research Advisory Committee, did not apply for extension as a woman scholar within the stipulated time i.e. before the expiry of her Covid extension i.e. on 6th Feb, 2022… extension is given by the Vice Chancellor, as per the recommendation of the RAC and the supervisor. The RAC looks at the scholar’s progress and considers all the circumstances of the scholar. The scholar’s progress has been very unsatisfactory, the application had been filed more than two months after the expiry of stipulated time and therefore extension cannot be given,” stated the university administration’s response.
Zargar had been in jail for a little over two months from April to June 2020 in the UAPA case and had been granted bail on “humanitarian grounds” considering the fact that she was in the advanced stages of pregnancy.
“Despite three waves of Covid, a pregnancy, severe state attack, jail time and severe Covid infections in the family, I completed my fieldwork. I submitted all my progress reports on time. But at the fag end of my thesis, I am being denied admission,” she stated.
The university has stated that her reports have been unsatisfactory. “From time to time, the scholar was encouraged by the supervisor to do fieldwork and complete her work from time to time. But the scholar did not make any progress in her work as suggested by the RAC. Her past report had also been showing unsatisfactory progress,” stated their response.