Row over IIT-M action on student's group
Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) has temporarily de-recognised a Dalit students’ group following an anonymous complaint that it was trying to create “hatred” against Hindus and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as making students protest against Central policies.
The issue has sparked a major political controversy. The Congress-backed National Students’ Union of India staged a protest in the national capital outside the Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani’s residence, demanding that the action be withdrawn.
Irani, who was in Assam, said IIT-Madras had taken the decision on its own, and the students’ group did not “follow certain procedures which should have been followed”.
“I know the Congress is very interested in finding some flaw in the HRD Ministry. But it must understand that autonomous educational institutes have the right to administer their institutes as per their own laws,” she told reporters at Silchar.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said the Centre has no role in the ban. Addressing a press conference, Naidu said the government is for upholding freedom of expression. “The Union government has nothing to do if any organisation takes action within its purview,” he said.
The HRD Ministry steered clear of the controversy. “The action is as per the guidelines of the institute. The ministry had nothing to do with this, except for forwarding the complaint. IITs, being autonomous institutions, are competent to handle matters within their guidelines and procedure,” said a ministry statement.
IIT-Madras has enforced “temporary de-recognition” on the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) for violation of guidelines. The group will be given an opportunity to clarify its position, said ministry sources.
A section of government officials, however, pointed out that the action was in violation of the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC) guidelines.
Issuing a circular on November 7 last year, the CVC had prescribed that no action be taken by any ministry, government department or organisation on “anonymous or pseudonymous” complaints.
The ministry had received the anonymous complaint from “students of the institute” on April 29.“Student group ‘Ambedkar Periyar’ is trying to de-align SC and ST students and trying to make them protest against the HRD Ministry and the Central government. They are creating hatred among students in the name of caste and trying to polarise SC and ST students. They are also trying to create hatred against the prime minister and Hindus,” said the anonymous complaint. They also said the APSC had earlier used posters and pamphlets against the HRD Ministry’s letter for separate dining for vegetarians and use of Hindi in IITs.
“We believe this group is politically motivated and getting funds and encouragement from some outside organisation. Some higher authorities of IIT are also supporting them. They are using IIT-Madras as a stage to get publicity,” said the complainants.
The ministry acted swiftly, forwarding the complaint to IIT-M Director Bhaskar Ramamurthy on May 15, seeking his “comments” at the earliest.
The APSC had, in its pamphlet, received by the Ministry along with anonymous complaint, accused the Centre of carrying forward “Hindutva agenda” and “assisting multinational corporates to loot Mother India”. It also accused the NDA government of “polarising the common people” of the country by “ban on cow slaughter, ‘Ghar Wapasi’ programme, and promotion of Vedas”, suggesting that such moves can only be “annihilated” by taking forward the struggle against “caste and re-colonisation”.