NEW DELHI: In a most arbitrary and appalling move, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) threatened to seal all files with the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), JNU despite ongoing protests by students and faculty.

In a recent Facebook post, the Student Union President, Geeta Kumari, explained how orders were passed by the VC within hours of a successful march organised by the JNU teachers and students unions. The peaceful human chain was organised to protect the autonomous character of GSCASH that has been functioning independently since 2001. It is perceived as a highly successful and democratic committee and is quoted as an example in other Universities.

On September 12, the University administration in an unexpected move sent out notices citing the importance of implementing an Internal Complaints Committee as per the notification received from the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Education Institutions). Ever since, the students have been registering their dissent in form of peaceful protests.

As a student representative of the GSCASH who has been in office for more than two years, the recent move by the administration comes as a shock to me. I am reminded of the Justice Verma Committee Report published at the behest of the Nirbhaya movement, in 2013 that proclaims GSCASH in JNU as a model body for all higher education institutions.

The committee's report:

media/Justice verma committee/js verma committe report.pdf

There are few questions that need to be answered by the Vice Chancellor, for those who have constantly battled their apprehensions and threat to life in registering a complaint with the GSCASH. And as a motivated and inspired representative of the willpower of the many complainants, I ask him the following:

  • Have you considered going through the GSCASH rules and procedures, before dissolving it?

  • If you have, what has made you doubt its efficacy in tackling it’s three major objectives---- gender sensitization and orientation, crisis management and mediation and formal enquiry and redressal, that the ICC has no capacity to deliver on?

  • The ICC that you can now constitute from a pool of your nominated few, is a threat to the community of JNU that has constantly elected and marked its unbiased presence in committees that are set to fight gender violence and harassment. Does that make sense to you?

  • Since you are concerned about implementing orders set out by the MHRD, does the collective sensitization programs and workshops organized by GSCASH every year seem like a futile exercise to you?

  • Does it occur to you that the years of vigilant fight against the patriarchal system that exploits has been the agenda of GSCASH that has established a reputation for being unbiased and just?

As an ex-student of JNU I would like to remind you Sir, that this is not the first time you’ve thought of crushing our opinion, thoughts and dreams. I wonder how you forget that we are not the ones who cow down to your pointless agendas. I think in the past few years, though you have been successful in crushing the voices of your community, either through massive seat cuts or by suppressing the progressive voices of the academic, we have fought back each time stronger than before. This arbitrary show of strength shall lead you nowhere, but to the wrong side of history when we celebrate our victories over your patriarchal and discriminative minority.

(Cover Photo Swati Singh)