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HRD ministry denies any role in banning IIT-Madras student group

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The government on Friday said it had no role in banning the students’ group at the IIT-Madras even as opposition attacked it for curbing free speech.

The controversy over action against the student’s group for criticizing the Modi government also saw a war of words break out on Twitter between Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.

In a statement, Irani said: “The action has been taken by IIT-Madras as per the guidelines of the institute, the ministry of human resource development had nothing to do with this except for forwarding the complaint received to director, IIT, Madras for comments”.

IIT-Madras has taken action as per their own “procedure and institute’s guidelines”.

“IITs being autonomous institutions, they are competent to handle matters within their guidelines and procedure. The matter has been clarified by IIT, Madras through a media statement,” it added.

Irani’s statement followed reports stating that the institute had taken action against the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) – a students’ study group – over an anonymous complaint to the central government, saying the study group was trying to “create an atmosphere of hatred” among students by distributing “controversial pamphlets and posters” on the campus.

An anonymous letter to the ministry said that some controversial posters and pamphlets were pasted and distributed all over the institute by the group.

“One group ‘Ambedkar Periyar’ is trying to de-align the ST/SC students and trying to make them to protest against the MHRD and central government. They are also trying to create hatred against the prime minister and Hindus,” it said, adding the group was using IIT-Madras as a stage to get publicity.

The institute’s spokesperson said that while IIT-Madras did not curtail freedom of expression of the students, it is expected that student groups adhere to guidelines while conducting their activities.

Attacking the government, Gandhi, in a tweet, said: “IIT student group banned for criticizing Modi Government. What next?”

He added that free speech “is our right. We will fight any attempt to crush dissent and debate”.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the arrogance of the Narendra Modi government has come to an extent that if “a students’ organization criticizes their policies, that group is disbanded”.

“Is this how voice of dissent raised by youth will be suppressed in the country? This is why Rahulji has raised his voice,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni said: “It is evident (about Modi government). Think like us. Speak our language otherwise you have no place in free India”.

The National Students Union of India (NSUI) also held a protest outside Irani’s residence here against the “anti-constitutional act of the government in banning the APSC of IIT Madras for aptly criticizing the government’s inabilities”.

“NSUI believes that such an act is in complete violation with regard to the constitutional right of freedom of expression and speech given to every individual of the country,” its spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey told IANS.

The protestors were detained and taken to the Parliament Street police station.

The fight was carried on Twitter.

Within minutes of Gandhi condemning the move to censure the IIT students’ group on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Irani threw an open challenge to him. “Next time fight ur battles ur self don’t hide behind NSUI. N by d way I’m returning to Amethi soon. See you there,” she tweeted.

“Tell ur men strong arm tactics were tried in Amethi n didn’t scare me during Lok Sabha elections. They won’t scare me now,” Irani tweeted.

“Yesterday u told NSUI to create disorder where there is order. Today ur goons come to my house as I’m away at work,” she said.

The union minister was on a day-long visit to Silchar in Assam to address party workers to mark the BJP-led government’s one year in office.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

Also Read: Water Crisis is Increasing in Cape Town, Red Alert For Africa 

He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)