Updated: May 29, 2015 6:47:12 pm
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras was at the centre of controversy today over derecognition of a students group, many of whom are Dalits, following a complaint that it was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggering protests from Congress and AAP.
In Assam, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani backed IIT’s action, saying the institution has clearly stated that some procedures by the students’ organisation was not followed and it knew that Dean will de-recognise it for violating norms.
In Delhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, “Free speech is our right. We will fight any attempt to crush dissent and debate”.
Free speech is our right. We will fight any attempt to crush dissent and debate: Rahul Gandhi (2/2)
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) May 29, 2015
“IIT student group banned for criticizing Modi Government. What next? he said, according to tweets by his office.
Scores of NSUI workers today protested outside Irani’s official residence in Delhi over the issue.
The protesters from Congress’ students wing raised anti-government slogans and accused the HRD Ministry of being behind the action against the body.
After the protest HRD Minister reacting to the row said, “Students’ organization knew that if procedures are not followed that body will be derecognized by Dean. Some procedures by students’ organization were not followed.”
Smriti Irani also added, “This is an autonomous institution which takes its own steps,I know people in Congress are very interested in finding some flaw in HRD.”
A senior official of the premier Central technical institute told reporters in Chennai that the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle(APSC) had “violated” defined guidelines of IIT-Madras.
“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 reporters.
“This group has violated the guidelines while conducting their meeting,” he said, adding that this leads to temporary derecognition of the group.
A separate statement by the institute said that while IIT-M does not “curtail” students’ freedom of expression, “it is expected that student groups adhere to these guidelines while conducting their activities.”
The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry had forwarded a complaint made by some students about the APSC to the institute, accusing the group of creating “hatred” against Modi and instigating protests against Centre’s policies.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said this was an effort by state and central government to gag the democratic voices of the country.
He said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly spoken about interference of fringe groups in the academic, non-academic and various sections of the government.
Tamil Nadu’s former deputy chief minister and DMK treasurer M. K Stalin too supported the students and tweeted, “Intolerance in IIT. Student study groups disbanded. This assault on freedom of expression should be condemned.”
Intolerance in IIT. Student study groups disbanded. This assault on freedom of expression should be condemned
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) May 29, 2015
AAP leader Ashutosh asked whether students from Dalit community don’t have a right to express their views on Prime Minister.
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