IIT Madras bans student’s group critical of PM Modi

Rajat Kain

smriti_iraniIndian Institute of Technology-Madras, one of the premier institutes of higher education in technology found itself mired in a major controversy over its decision on the student’s body. The administration of IIT-Madras has derecognised Ambedkar Periyar Students Circle (APSC), a student run group in the campus for reportedly criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s policies.

The action against the group came after an anonymous complaint, sent to the central government, was forwarded to the IIT-Madras authorities. Acting on the unverified complaints the institute decided to act against Ambedkar Periyar Students Circle (APSC).

It all began on the Friday morning, when the group was told by IIT-Madras authorities that it can’t use the campus auditorium, IIT email on its literature and the institute notice board for publishing and promoting its activities. However, authorities at the institute claimed the action was taken after it was found that the students group violated the guidelines of the institute.

“As per the guidelines in force, student bodies cannot use the name of IIT Madras or its official entities in any capacity to publicise their activities or garner support without official permission,” Prof Ramamurthy, Acting Director, told the press.

“IIT-Madras does not curtail students’ freedom of expression, it is expected that student groups adhere to these guidelines while conducting their activities,” said another official.

The complaint was received by the Union Human Resource Development ministry from an anonymous complainant, said to be a student of IIT Madras. The complaint letter was then forwarded to the concerned authorities at the IIT.

But reacting over the issue HRD minister Smriti Irani said, “autonomous educational institutions have the right to administer their institution as per their own laws”.

Later in the day, Congress party’s student body NSUI protested outside the official resident of Union HRD minister Smriti Irani.

More than 100 youngsters and students representing NSUI were seen raising slogans and seeking explanation from Smriti Irani over “derecognising” the student’s body APSC. Some of them were later detained by the police as the protest threatened to become violent.

Meanwhile, the APSC has expressed deep concerns over the action meted out by the campus authorities. They claim the action against them was taken without even giving them a hearing.

“We have not violated the Constitution. The Constitution allows us to criticize the government and its policies,” said Abhinav Surya, the head of the study circle.

On the other hand, the college authorities claim that the Dean of college has asked them to appear before the Board of Students in August after the institute, closed for the summer vacations, reopens.