Students’ discussion panel de-recognized by IIT Madras for criticizing PM Modi 



By NewsGram Staff Writer

IIT Madras stirred a controversy by de-recognising a discussion panel for students that apparently tried to spread “hatred” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by mobilizing SC/ST students to question government policies on the use of Hindi and the ban on cow slaughter.

Reportedly, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) made an inquiry after receiving an anonymous complaint against the activities of the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) on the IIT campus. The complainant had enclosed one of APSC’s pamphlets containing a copy of a speech, which criticized PM Modi’s government and its policies.

Times of India reported that the ‘controversial’ pamphlet that the MHRD forwarded was a reproduced speech by a Dravidian University academic, R Vivekandanda Gopal, on the “Contemporary relevance of Dr Ambedkar.” The event was organized by the APSC on the campus. The pamphlet reproduced portions of the speech in which the speaker had criticized the Modi regime for “pro-corporate” policies such as the Land Acquisition Bill and insurance and labor reforms. He had also accused the government of “communally polarizing” people by introducing a ban on cow slaughter and through ‘ghar wapsi’ programs.

As per the report, in the letter addressed to the IIT director dated May 15, Prisca Mathew, under secretary to the government of India, wrote, “I am directed to forward herewith a copy of anonymous letter alleging serious complaints received from students, IIT-Madras along with pamphlet issued by Ambedkar-Periyar study circle on the above mentioned subject and to request that comments of the institute may please be sent to this ministry at an early date.”

The IIT dean (for students), Sivakumar M Srinivasan, on May 24 in a concise email, informed the coordinators of the APSC that they had been “derecognized.”

Members of APSC, upset and enraged at this decision, pointed out that the HRD ministry’s action and the IIT’s decision to ban their activities was based on an anonymous complaint by right-wing groups and that they were denied a hearing. The group questioned that how an ‘anonymous’ letter can represent the majority opinion of the students of IIT-Madras.

“We object to the fact that the dean has derecognized our study circle unilaterally without giving us a fair hearing and an opportunity to represent ourselves. In our interaction with the dean of students, we have been told that our study circle engaged in “controversial activities” and violated the code of conduct of independent student bodies. We are clear in our stand that we have not misused any privileges given by the institute,” said a member of the APSC.

After being banned, APSC can no longer avail the facilities on the campus including the auditoriums for its functions.