A PhD scholar was attacked by a group of students, led by an ABVP sympathiser, at in IIT-Madras on Tuesday after he took part in a beef festival organised on the campus on Sunday night. With his right eye severely injured, R Sooraj, a PhD scholar in aerospace engineering, was first taken to the campus hospital and then shifted to an eye hospital in the city, a senior IIT-M official said. Beef is not banned in Tamil Nadu.
B Anoop, another student and witness to the incident, said a gang of eight attacked Sooraj near the canteen sometime after 2 pm. A senior IIT-M official said the leader of the gang, Manish, is an MS Ocean Engineering student and an ABVP sympathiser. “On Monday, he had threatened a few other students too,” the official alleged. “After he went around saying he wanted to kill those who eat beef, a PhD student who was threatened had filed a complaint with the campus security.”
Anoop said, “We were having lunch when they approached us and asked Sooraj whether he had attended the beef fest and eaten beef. Sooraj replied that he had. When they threatened him, he protested. Immediately, they started hitting him on the head. As I tried to stop the attackers, others who had gathered there prevented me…the leader of the gang kept on hitting Sooraj on his face.” S Sivakumar, dean of students at IIT-M, refused to comment on the incident.
On Monday, H Raja, BJP leader in Tamil Nadu and the party’s national secretary, had demanded action against Sivakumar for not stopping students from holding the beef festival on campus to protest against the Centre’s new rules on cattle trade. A senior police officer said a team was sent to the private hospital where Sooraj was subsequently shifted to record his statement. “The process was delayed since he was taken to the emergency for CT scan,” the officer said.
IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthy was not available for a comment. Later in the evening, Sooraj’s friends distributed cooked beef outside the campus to protest against the attack. Demanding action against those who attacked Sooraj, students have called for a march to the administration office of IIT-Madras on Wednesday.
Condemning the attack on Sooraj, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has issued a statement.
“It is unfortunate that a young man’s eye has been thrashed for merely eating beef. Our constitution gives us the right to consume whatever food we like to. Intolerance towards it is, in fact, intolerance towards our constitution itself. I will request the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to take necessary action in this incident,” he has said.
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