A STUDENT at the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) under the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), an Institute of Eminence, objected in the classroom after his teacher allegedly referred to him as “Kasab”, the terrorist who was hanged for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
It is learnt that the incident occurred days ago but the institute responded on Monday after a 45-second video clip that showed the student’s response went public. It announced an inquiry and said the teacher will remain “debarred” till the probe is completed.
In the video, the teacher, an assistant professor in the civil engineering department, is seen trying to justify his remark, saying it was a “funny thing”. But the student is heard saying, “26/11 was not funny… being a Muslim in this country and facing all of this every day is not funny.”
The video also shows the professor saying “sorry” and the student responding: “Sorry does not change how you think or how you portray yourself here.”
Issuing a statement announcing an inquiry, MIT referred to the teacher’s remark and said the “institute does not condone this kind of behaviour and this isolated incident will be dealt with in accordance with the laid down policy”.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Lt Gen (Dr) M D Venkatesh, vice-chancellor of MAHE, said, “When such a serious allegation is made, we have to be very careful. It’s a difficult situation. The inquiry committee has just been constituted and its outcome will be known in a day or two. We have to be fair and transparent. We will wait for the report. At this point, it’s important to protect both the student and the teacher (and hence the decision to not let him take classes till completion of inquiry).”
When contacted by The Indian Express, the teacher claimed: “I told kaisa ho (how are you)… he heard it wrong.” He said the exchange was “forgotten the next day” and he “taught the same class with the same students.”
Asked about his apology, the teacher said, “He felt it was wrong… I am not supposed to answer (to you), only to the police if they want to know. I am not comfortable with these questions. Because it is affecting the harmony (on campus).”
The student could not be reached for comment.
Sources in the MAHE administration said the incident took place sometime over the past two weeks and the student hasn’t lodged a formal complaint against the teacher.
“The institute has taken suo motu cognisance of the incident (based on the video). There is no formal or written complaint by the student and his parents. The student and his parents have been counselled. The parents don’t want to pursue any complaint or action, but Manipal has a strict no-tolerance policy for such behaviour,” the sources said.
The build-up to the exchange is not shown in the video — here are the key purported excerpts:
Student: “….(unclear) in such a derogatory manner.”
Assistant Professor: “You are just like my kid.”
Student: “No, if my father says this, I’ll disown him.”
Assistant Professor: “It’s a funny thing.”
Student: “No, it’s not, sir. It’s not. 26/11 was not funny ….(unclear) being a Muslim in this country and facing all of this every day is not funny.”
Assistant Professor: “You are just like my son.”
Student: “No, no, no. Will you talk to your son like that? Will you call him by the name of a terrorist? Khallas (Over). How can you call me like that in front of so many people in the class?”
Assistant Professor: “Sorry, I told (I have apologised).”
Student: “You are a professional. You are teaching. You can’t call me that.”
Assistant Professor: “Sorry, I told.”
Student: “Sorry does not change how you think or how you portray yourself here.”
MIT said in its statement: “The institute prides itself with one of the biggest diversity on campus and is committed to uphold our constitutional values of treating everyone alike, irrespective of their caste, religion, region, gender etc.”
MIT is ranked among the top 50 engineering schools in the country and is a unit of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, which was officially awarded the ‘Institution of Eminence’ (IoE) status by the Education Ministry in 2019. IoEs are higher education institutions identified by the union government with the potential to rank among the top 500 universities in ten years. MIT has close to 10,000 students on campus.