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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)

Next Story

India’s President ‘Ram Nath Kovind’ Designates ‘Narendra Modi’ as PM for Second Term

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament

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Newly elected lawmakers from India's ruling alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party raise their hands in support of Narendra Modi's election as their leader in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

India’s president on Saturday appointed Narendra Modi as the prime minister soon after newly elected lawmakers from the ruling alliance, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, elected him as their leader following a thunderous victory in national elections.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet that he also asked Modi to forward the names of those to be appointed as ministers in his government and the date for the swearing-in for his second five-year term as prime minister. Modi and some leaders of his alliance met the president on Saturday.

Media reports said Modi was likely to be sworn in by Kovind on Thursday.

BJP president Amit Shah announced Modi’s name as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in a meeting of the lawmakers in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second right, hugs senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M.M. Joshi as L.K. Advani, left, watches after Modi’s election as ruling alliance leader, in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, after the official vote count from the six-week-long election was completed on Friday. That is well beyond the simple majority a party in India needs to form a government.

The BJP’s top rival, the Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, won 52 seats, and the All India Trinamool Congress led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee won 22.

Unity movement

Critics say Modi and his party have applied divisive policies and used a Hindu-first strategy. But Modi said after Saturday’s vote that “this election has become a movement of social unity.” “It is generally said that the election divides, creates distances, makes walls. But the 2019 elections have worked to break the walls,” he said in his address.

On Friday, Modi met with his outgoing Cabinet ministers and later presented his resignation to the country’s president. The president asked the officials to continue to serve until the new government assumes office.

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The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. VOA

Gandhi, whose great-grandfather, grandmother and father were all prime ministers, personally conceded his seat, long a Congress party bastion, to his BJP rival, India’s textiles minister, marking the end of an era for modern India’s most powerful political dynasty.

Counting of the estimated 600 million ballots cast over six weeks of staggered polling — the world’s largest democratic exercise — began early Thursday.

ALSO READ: Here’s How TikTok Made PM Modi Popular Among Young Voters

Hindu-first politics

The victory was largely seen as a referendum on Modi’s Hindu-first politics that some observers say have bred intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities, as well as his muscular stance on neighboring Pakistan, with whom India nearly went to war earlier this year after suicide attacks killed more than 40 Indian security officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Modi effectively used the incident as a major campaign tool after responding to the attack with an airstrike in Pakistan that triggered nationalist sentiments, with the BJP saying Modi is the right person to ensure India’s national security. (VOA)