The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) on Sunday “reinstated the recognition of” Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an independent student body whose de-recogition triggered a social media campaign and widespread protests.
The APSC was derecognised by the Dean of Students, Sivakumar M Srinivasan, on May 22, for allegedly violating rules for a seminar on B R Ambedkar held on April 14. The action came after the HRD Ministry sent a letter to the institute on the APSC’s political activities, reportedly after an anonymous complaint claimed that the student body was criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s policies.
On Sunday evening, following a meeting that lasted for over seven hours, the IIT-M management and APSC issued a public statement announcing that the student body had been recognised again. “The Dean of Students reinstated the recognition of APSC as an independent student body, and after consultation with the APSC representatives, recommended Milind Brahme as the faculty advisor,” said the statement.
Akhil Bharathan, a coordinator of APSC, said the management had also agreed to ensure equal privileges to all independent student bodies, including facilities like a webpage in the official domain and an official email ID.
A senior faculty member blamed the “panic reaction” of the Dean. “He failed to understand two important points. One is that IIT is an autonomous body and he is answerable to the Director, Bhaskar Ramamurthy, not any bureaucrat sitting in Delhi. Second, he forgot that nobody can punish anyone for a procedural violation when it happened much before the existence of that rule. He enforced a rule on April 18, and took action for its violation of a programme that happened on April 14,” said the professor.
The open statement also emphasised this point. “The APSC representatives conveyed their views to the Director, in particular, that the guidelines for independent student bodies was publicised on the website on April 18, 2015, while their meeting took place on April 14, 2015. After discussions with the Director, he requested them to meet the Dean of Students,” it said.
Meawhile, several institutes across the country have started APSC units, including Pondicherry Central University, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Mumbai and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.