The Indian Institute of Technology- Madras has banned a student forum for, allegedly, trying to spread critical statements against PM Narendra Modi and his government’s policies, as suggested by reports.
As reported by The Times of India, the decision followed after the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) made an inquiry regarding an anonymous complaint stating that one of Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle’s (APSC) pamphlets were reproducing a speech on the IIT campus which criticized the Modi government and its policies.
A week after the complaint, the IIT Dean for students, Sivakumar M Srinivasan, ‘derecognized’ the APSC and informed the group’s coordinators about the same via email.
Ramesh, a student of APSC body told ANI, “There’s no explanation in mail why the authorities de-recognised the body. We explained we have constitutiional right to discuss and whatever we discuss is according to the Constitution.” Ramesh further added that other religious groups are allowed to propagate but when it comes to Ambedkar group, the authorities stop them.
With regard to the ideologies of the group, Akhil, another member of APSC said, “Dean lies. Last time he said even for birthday party you should take permission, but then he denied. (He) said Ambedkar’s name is too radical.”
Another agitated student responded by saying, “Rational thought is being demolished, only superstition and pseudo science are being allowed. (We) were told that we were de-recognized, and the dean said we cant hurt feelings of masses.”
K Ramamurthy, Academic Incharge IIT Madras defended the decision by saying, “IIT Madras does not curtail freedom of expression, the guidelines were agreed to by all student bodies. This group did not work according to the guidelines issued by the represented body.” He added,” (The) dean asked group to present their stand. When Board of students meet, the group will be given chance to do so. Right now vacation period is on, when they come back, then student bodies and administration will meet & discussions will be held.”
In response to the authorities’ decision, Justice Markanday Katju posed a question about people’s right to criticize their government or political leaders in a democracy, in a tweet. He further tweeted: ‘IIT Madras bans students group criticizing Modi. Is this not violation of freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(a) of the Constitution?’
IIT Madras bans students group criticizing Modi Is this not violation of freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(a) of the Constitution
— Markandey Katju (@mkatju) May 28, 2015
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter to criticize the action against the students. He tweeted