The Jamia Millia Islamia administration on Friday sent on leave a professor heading the Applied Arts Department who has been accused of sexual harassment. The authorities also suspended three male students for allegedly physically assaulting two female students, who were later hospitalised.

Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts have been protesting against Professor Hafeez Ahmad, Head of Department of Applied Arts, since February 1. He has been accused of sexual harassment, intimidating students and regionalism, News18 reported.

Several students have accused Ahmad of making lewd comments, personal attacks and sending unsolicited text messages.

According to the students, they were marching to the Faculty of Fine Arts on Thursday when they were confronted by students in support of Ahmed. They allegedly beat up a few female students. When the students went to the Vice-Chancellor’s office to register their complaints, a female student was allegedly grabbed by her collar and groped.

The protesting students claim that the male students who were on Ahmed’s side had assaulted them. “We called the PCR [police control room] to file a complaint,” said Manish, a student of fine arts. “But the university administration intervened and stopped us from doing so.”

The university administration on Friday said it had suspended with immediate effect the three male students, pending the disciplinary committee’s decision. They have been prohibited from entering the campus and attending classes for two weeks.

With Ahmad on leave, the university has appointed Professor Nuzhat Kazmi, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, to officiate as the head of department at the Department of Applied Arts.

The administration assured the protesting students that all their demands will be considered and a selection committee of guest teachers will be held to meet the shortage of teachers in the Department of Applied Arts. One of the students’ demands was to increase the number of faculty members.

“The university administration spoke to protesting students several times and listened to their grievances and assured all possible efforts for the redressal of their grievances,” said Public Relations Officer Ahmad Azeem.