NUJS students write letters to VC protesting against CCTVs on campusNUJS students write letters to VC protesting against CCTVs on campus

Female students of NUJS Kolkata have alleged being harassed, including sexually, on campus by male staff who also have access to video footage of them through Close Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) that had been installed by the administration.

The students asked for monitoring and restrictions on the viewing of CCTV footage.

The law school’s Student Juridical Association (SJA), meanwhile, has asked for the removal of CCTV cameras altogether from classrooms and seminar or conference halls on campus, due to privacy concerns, dilution of classroom atmosphere and also because of the hasty and “ill thought out” manner in which the decision to install the cameras was taken.

NUJS had begun installing these cameras throughout its campus from February 2017, with the administration giving us security and accountability as reasons for the roll-out when we reported on it recently.

Women safety concerns

Residents of the women’s hostels have written a letter to NUJS vice chancellor Prof Ishwara Bhat (see below) protesting against allegedly giving “unrestricted access” of “recorded footage” from the women’s hostel to security staff and administration.

The letter has not yet been submitted to the administration but has been circulated internally amongst students for signature, at which point a copy was leaked to us. It is understood that the signed letter will be submitted to the administration in the coming days.

The residents have stated in their letter:

Residents of the women’s hostel are distressed that they are regularly taunted, abused, singled out and harassed by the very security staffs that are entrusted with their safety. These remarks are often sexually-coloured, cruel and intended to assassinate the character of these women. These remarks do not come from just the women staff but also the men who regularly conjecture about these women amongst themselves in Bangla often under the impression that it would be not be understood due to the language barrier.

The petitioners have written that they have been living under the fear of being constantly watched by men, ever since the installation of the CCTV cameras, and have also alleged:

Further, they are abusing this access by retaining and circulating the footage amongst themselves. Women students’ are regularly hounded and harassed by the guards, as are their friends who are pushed to identify them. This has resulted in the creation of an extremely oppressive atmosphere for women, where they are constantly afraid of the being watched by men.

They have also objected to the curfew of 2AM for female students, which is earlier than male students' curfews.

Read full letter by the female students (PDF)

SJA grievances

Independently, preceding the female students' complaints, the SJA has also written in a petition to Bhat that they have a “deep rooted, almost unanimous dissatisfaction due to the seemingly ill thought out installation of these CCTVs”, and have addressed a set of 18 queries under eight broad areas of grievances against the CCTVs.

Some extracts from the concerns listed in the petition:

Any kind of surveillance is always associated with authorities' intention to monitor groups that are deviant and a danger to the authority. Hence, use of surveillance cameras in an inclusive space such as classroom leads to an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion between the students, faculty and the concerned authority. Further, such visual surveillance instils a fear of constantly being watched. These clearly lead to erosion of ideas of privacy.

faculty members will have to consider the authority's viewpoint before finalising the inclusion of any written or media related content in classroom teaching or having an informal, interactive discussion in the classrooms. Since written and visual material used in classrooms fall directly under surveillance of cameras, it inevitably causes a chilling effect, thereby, hampering classroom discussions. As opposed to the right of physical and exclusive right to access classrooms, this amounts to mass surveillance

The SJA has also alleged in the petition that its earlier concerns surrouding the circumstances and rationale behind installation of the CCTVs were misrepresented by the registrar to the administration, thus defeating the purpose of having a representative student body on campus.

Also, they state that the decision could not stand in the absence of consultation with the student body, which in this case was non-existent. The SJA has given the example of Nalsar Hyderabad in its letter, noting that Nalsar did not install CCTVs in classrooms and discussion rooms in its roll-out of cameras on campus.

They also argue that given other necessities on campus, such as solving the “cess pool” renovation and “hostel crunch”, installing two dozen CCTV cameras was a waste of funds that should have been better utilised.

Holding teachers accountable for being unprofessional, using student feedback and installing cameras that faced only teachers and not the entire classroom, would have been a better approach to follow, the SJA stated in the letter.

The SJA also highlighted the problematic approach of installing surveillance without first formulating a policy for such surveillance:

While there are hardly any known instances of cameras enhancing security, the footage has been used to call up parents of those who violated curfew timings on some instances. Moreover, who all can access this footage and what is the policy on its usage remains yet to be notified. Similarly, the absence of any policy has caused vast unrest among the snident community, with obvious concerns regarding privacy and misuse of the footage recorded by both the recently installed CCTV cameras and the ones installed earlier in absence of any policy safeguarding students' privacy and ensuring that no misuse of the recorded footage.

Bhat was not reachable for comment since earlier today.

Update 10 August: Bhat has commented to the Telegraph, which has also carried a story on the letter: “Students are expected to enter the campus by 11pm. But at times some return to the hostel at 1.30 or 2 in the morning. Some of the students have been identified with the help of footage.... Maintaining discipline on the campus is our utmost concern. We have no other intention. CCTV cameras will remain at the entrance as security tools. The privacy of the students is not being violated,”

Read full SJA petition (PDF)

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Like +17 Object -1 Pi 08 Aug 17, 19:45  interesting  top rated
The allegations that workers at the university have done mobile video recordings from the cctv monitors and circulating these clips amongst themselves are extremely serious. cctv must be shut immediately until a proper probe is conducted.
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Like +4 Object -25 True information 08 Aug 17, 20:36  troll?
Students is crossing all limits in effort to malign the Honble VC and administration. Legally India is giving encouragement to this.

Here are the true facts:

1. Students is doing all sorts of nonsense. So monitoring is needed.

2. Wrong allegation is being given that money for CCTV is misuse and should be used for hostel improvement. Anything you do not like you will say corruption! Next thing you will say if weather is hot there is corruption!

3. Students is always being consulted so question do not arise.

4. False impression is being created that faculties is not good. Students misbehave in class and then say faculties is not good. There are scared that now cameras will show misbehaviors in class. Also impression is given that alumnis is not invited for teaching. It is not correct. Fault is with alumnis who do not want to come and are arrogant. They do not even have LLM degree.
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Like +1 Object -5 Badoo 09 Aug 17, 12:33
Does having LLM degree confer a special status ?
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Like +7 Object -0 Duh 09 Aug 17, 17:26  interesting
Obviously, it's a damn degree!
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Like +6 Object -7 Self-restraint 09 Aug 17, 18:09  controversial
I agree with True information that the CCTVs are intended to control misbehaviour.

Sometimes it helps to know that someone is watching you. Before criticising, people should note that the Honble VC had installed CCTVs in his office so that he can resist the temptation to dig his nose every two minutes.

It is only after seeing the self-improvement, that the Honble VC decided to have the CCTVs installed on a campus-wide basis...
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Like +1 Object -3 Guest 13 Aug 17, 16:19
Always two sides to a coin.

1. Two different instances of girl's entering late night in boy's hostel, caught becuase of CCTV. Action being taken through enquiry committee.

2. Many cases of late entry of students in extremely drunk condition. Destruction of college property has resulted, as well as one instance of theft of keys of academic section reported. This is important because the academic section contains test papers and attendance sheets. All wrongdoers caught because of CCTV.

3. Student's stolen laptop found due to CCTV footage. Outsiders entering campus after dark also were apprehended and thrown out within minutes due to monitoring by Guards.

Report should highlight these incidents also.
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Like +2 Object -0 Darkseid 13 Aug 17, 19:44
In none of the cases, strong action has ever been taken even when faced with proven issues of theft. The action taken by NUJS administration is often arbitrary without any reason and tempered by ghore influential a student's family is. If you don't believe me, ask the students or even the teachers. Last year, a student was caught impersonating various institutions including likes of Harvard and engaging in cyber crimes of the gravest extent. He's still there and hasn't been rusticated. What's the use of having ways to catch wrongdoing if you don't do anything about it? Even pre-CCTV measures used to be sufficient once to curb wrong doing, simply because administration was strong and decisive in terms of measures.
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Like +1 Object -0 Warden 14 Aug 17, 12:06
Impassionate defence Sanju Baba. Looking to move up in the administrative ladder?
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Like +9 Object -0 Guest 08 Aug 17, 23:39  interesting
It is beyond belief how someone like Bhat can continue year after year despite being so incompetent and insensitive towards the students. The SJA should now stop filing petitions and stage a coup rejecting Bhat's authority, and establish a "parallel government". Start by migrating sja.nujs.edu to a new domain like nujs.in and making it the "official" site. Explore alternative accommodation. Explore possibilities for guest lectures outside campus, and prepare a roster of top practitioners and academicians. Stop paying fees to the college. Inform the Chief Justice and EC of the coup.
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Like +11 Object -0 2Pac 09 Aug 17, 03:04  interesting
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Like +4 Object -2 Jabba 09 Aug 17, 08:42
Apart from those faculty members who do not want to spend any effort towards teaching/research anyway and those students who have no intention to shape a bright future for themselves apart from scraping through via multiple repeat exams, nobody in the university is happy or content since this guy took over and he still keeps on staying here! Some people just don't get the message or have any shred of self-respect!
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 09 Aug 17, 16:41
Spot on.
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Like +6 Object -3 XXX 09 Aug 17, 16:57
The harsh truth is that students are not entirely blameless for the state of affairs. Many have no problems with mediocre faculty as they hand out high grades as a bribe. A "particular" person comes to mind, along with some others.
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Like +6 Object -2 AFK 09 Aug 17, 19:36
Most of these students in the NLUs (including NUJS) are opportunistic parasites who would milk the system for the max. If they are complaining about CCTVs it is only due to their own fear of being caught cheating in exams and sleeping in class. They never complain when the same bad faculty hand out umpteen exemptions or E grades. Neither do they complain when vice chancellors of these NLUs pander to their unending demands.
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Like +1 Object -0 Guest 09 Aug 17, 22:47
Absolutely true. You get what you deserve.
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Like +6 Object -2 Nirvana Sage 09 Aug 17, 23:29
I find it super-amusing that these students are really worried about usage of campus funds or right to privacy. All big words. They dont give a rats ass when funds are used for their SBA activities, expect the VCs of these NLUs to sign 1srt page of their tacky placement brochures and have no issue going about with begging bowls to their 'incompetent' VCs for moot sponsorship but suddenly develop principles when it comes to privacy, GIVE ME A BREAK. At NLSIU the same bunch of SBA office bearers who protest for faculty recruitment are involved in seeking consecutive project extensions and nonsensical attendance waivers from Venkat Rao. I bet half of the signatories to these petitions are wandering corridors of law school shamelessly begging for clemency from debarment and plagiarism from the same people they accuse of incompetency.
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Like +2 Object -0 Guest 10 Aug 17, 00:57
LOL at all the angry protests! It's just a simple scam to make money from a tender, as with the previous registrar. The students are really dumb not to have understood this from the start.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 10 Aug 17, 04:45
Please update the story: Bhat has given a statement to the Telegraph. It seems he ignores LI but takes MSM seriously (though MSM picks up the story from LI).

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170810/jsp/calcutta/story_166459.jsp
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Like +1 Object -3 True information 10 Aug 17, 12:54
In the news report in Telegraph one student has said: ""Some of the students attend late-night parties and are not entirely sober when they return to the hostel."

This only shows how students in doing total nonsense and indiscipline in the name of freedoms.
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Like +3 Object -2 Self-restraint 10 Aug 17, 15:16
Once again, True information is bang on!

The CCTVs are very advanced and can easily distinguish between sober and inebriated persons - any person with alcohol inside their body shows up onscreen with a halo above their heads.

On an interesting side-note, the Honble VC always shows up onscreen with two horns on his head. It is not yet known whether this is on account of his cow urine consumption or some Satanic connection.
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Like +0 Object -2 Guest 11 Aug 17, 01:00
The article in Telegraph has exposed the students. All sort of allegation of corruptions is big made but the article has shown moral corruptions of the students. Student himself has admitted in the article to alcoholisms of the students and total indiscipline.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 11 Aug 17, 04:43
telegraph has published another report now:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170811/jsp/calcutta/story_166661.jsp
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Like +2 Object -0 hubba 13 Aug 17, 09:42
i am a little surprised. this thread is full of comments blaming the students for various deficiencies. surely, if the complaint from the student body inter alia deals with issues of harrassment of female students or circulation of their videos owing to CCTV cameras, this blame game seems extremely inappropriate? I saw comments insinuating you sow what you reap directed towards the students, which is extremely disturbing in the context harassment allegations. It is akin to using character assassination / victim shaming, which is a regular ritual whenever a girl complains of harrassment. It is a pity that at a reputed temple of learning that is intended to imbue its members with a greater sense of justice, young girls might be coming face to face with just the opposite.

Let us remember that all complaints and grievances should be tested on merits, not retaliated to by shaming the complainants about their morality, lifestyle and choices.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 13 Aug 17, 19:37
Shameless Bar & Bench is copying these stories from LI.
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Like +0 Object -0 Ex-Noojie 17 Aug 17, 09:21
HVe been fortunate to have been prt of nujs during the times of Mr. Singh. I can assure you that the ocolle environment was friendly, helpful and peaceful. This VC clearly doesn't understand that nujs is a law school, not kindergarden.

He should just gracefully resign and leave.
Ps- if that happens, pretty sure kids will celebrate instead of the somber farewell that was given to Mr.Singh.
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Like +1 Object -0 Darkseid 17 Aug 17, 15:57
From what I have heard, teachers will join in the revelry. ;)
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