I’ve been denied admission because I was speaking out in TISS: Fahad Ahmad

In a new manoeuvre to intimidate students, the TISS administration has denied PhD admission to Fahad Ahmad, the former General Secretary TISSSU and has also denied scholarships to other students.

Fahad Ahmad

Ahmad noted, “Despite the fact I was admitted in an integrated MPhil PhD proramme in 2016 and have completed all the requirements to get into PhD I had submitted my MPhil thesis and defended the viva as well still administration is denying me to register.”
Fahad Ahmad has been one of the leading voices of the TISS struggle that started on February 21, 2018 protesting a roll back of fee exemptions for GOI-PMS scholars. Students across TISS Mumbai, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Tuljapur participated in the strike.

TISS is a Deemed university fully funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC), Government of India. Currently, the average fees for TISS amounts to an exorbitant sum of Rs. 70,000-80,000 per semester. While on the one hand the institute cites curtailing in fund allocation a reason for rollback of such aid, there has been noticeable expansion in its logistics and infrastructure, wherein several new centers have been opened up recently. An estimated number of more than 500 students were expected to be impacted by this specific move. The enrolment of students from OBC category already saw a drop of 9%, as per the claims of students’ union.

The atrocious fees amounts charged by TISS are not at par with any of the other Central university fees such as JNU, EFLU, HCU etc. The institute had tried to defend the high fees that it charges by calling itself a Premier Institute.
Since the students’ strike started in February, the administration tried multiple methods to quell the protests including issuing legal notices to seven students urging the Bombay Civil Court to issues directions to students to stop their protest. However, students alleged on multiple occasions that the administration never tried to initiate a reasoned dialogue with them. Finally, the students also protested during the annual convocation ceremony of TISS where Ahmad refused to take his degree apart from 8 other students, as even after two and half months of protests, the administration made no attempts to consider students’ demands.
It appears that this move rattled the TISS administration, which alleged in its letter issued to Ahmad on July 25 that he “insulted” the chairman, and highlighted the protest of students during convocation.  “To the very shock and surprise of all present, you walked up to the stage, but when the degree was presented to you by the Chairman, you, not only refused to receive your own degree, but in a way insulted the Chairman..” The tone of the letter suffers from a colonial hangover.
Link of video of Fahad Ahmad refusing his degree

Fahad talks about reasons for refusing degree

The letter accuses that Ahmad engaged into “illegal activities” for the duration of protest. It says, “Between February 20, 2018 till March 28, 2018, you have been involved in protest against the Institute during which you engaged in various disruptive, illegal activities including obstructing persons (staff and residents), material and movement of the vehicles within the campus, and through the main gate, blocking administrative office…”
However, Ahmad believes that he has been denied registration because he was “fighting for social justice” He also added, “I have been denied registration because I didn’t quit the struggle when other students union member left, I have been denied registration because it’s easy to target a Muslim in current scenario, I have been denied registration because raising question is not allowed in this country, I have been denied registration because I challenged undeclared emergency in TISS and in our country. Me and several other students are facing the brunt of participating in the protest as the admin has even stalled JRF forms of all of us. But we will fight it together.”
Earlier, on July 10, the institute a notice initiating disciplinary action against 27 students saying that continuation forms for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) won’t be certified over alleged misconduct from March 23- March 28 and added that they will be only eligible again for fellowship after an Inquiry committee has looked into the alleged incidents of misconduct. This has jeopardized the lives of those students who were already in the middle of their semesters and eagerly waiting for their scholarships to pay several of their dues.
However, the students breathed a sigh of relief as a pro-student union got elected just a few days back, which comprised mainly of those students who had participated in the protests till the end. The students are seeing this as a victory of students’ rights. About the denial of registration to Fahad, the newly elected Student Union president Jit Hazarika has said, “This is selective targeting of students who participated in the protests. While Fahad has been issued this letter, fellowships of other students have been stopped. We condemn this stand by the administration, and we will be taking up these issues with them.”



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