The engineering department of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University on Saturday cancelled a fashion show and a dice game after protests erupted on campus. The protesting group claimed that such activities were “against [the] Islamic ethics and cultural ethos of Jamia”.
Both events were part of the Faculty of Engineering’s three-day annual festival, Xtacy. The protesting group, which calls itself “Students of Jamia” on Facebook, has been campaigning against these events. In two Facebook posts on Saturday, the group described the events as “peak level of immodesty” and rallied support against it. “Dear brothers, if you are left with even a bit of Ghairah [zeal]…come out and stop such evil acts. Come out against such filth so that we won’t be ashamed on the Day of Judgment,” read one of the posts.
However, one of the organisers told Scroll.in that they were not sure who these protesters were. “There may have been a few students from other departments, some alumni and some outsiders, we are not sure,” they said. “What I know for sure is they were not from the engineering department.”
The organisers had the permission and support of both the Faculty of Engineering and the university administration to host these events. “We cancelled the show only because we feared the protestors would get violent,” said one of the students. “We did not want to risk the teams that had come from other colleges getting injured here. Their safety was our responsibility.”
On Friday night, one of the co-ordinators of the fashion show allegedly received a threat call from a protester. Then, around noon on Saturday, about a dozen men came to the venue. “Our team tried to talk to them, but they were not ready to listen,” one of the organisers told Scroll.in. “They also shut down the card games, or Hasino ka Casino, arguing it was gambling.”
The fashion show, called Tarz-e-Libas, was scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday. The group reportedly came back with more men around 3 pm. “They said if even one girl walked on the ramp, they would throw stones,” said a student. “We tried to explain, even our teachers tried, but they abused our seniors and kept saying they would not let women walk naked.”
Fearing that it would create a security problem, the festival organisers relented. “We had to apologise to them [contestants from other colleges of Delhi] and I felt ashamed,” said the student. “I am also Muslim and a bunch of Muslim students and teachers consented to the event. This makes the university look bad. It gives the impression that it is a deeply regressive university but the administration and teachers were with us on this. This is our Bajrang Dal.”