On October 9, five students and an alumni of Mahatma Gandhi Antarashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV), Wardha received a letter of suspension for allegedly organising Dalit leader Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary and writing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the suspension letter, the students have been accused of ‘violating the model code of conduct’ and ‘interfering with the administrative process’. However, students say that the model code of conduct cannot be applied inside any central university.
“The model code of conduct doesn’t make sense because the event was inside the campus, not outside. Plus, they didn’t even cross-check my name before sending out the suspension order,” said Rajesh Saarthi, an alumni who received the suspension letter. “I passed out a year ago and had gone to collect my migration certificate.”
Furthermore, the students say that the administration is targeting Bahujan students as all six students are from SC and OBC categories. Chandan Saroj, Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar, Vaibhav Pimpalkar, Rajesh Saarthi, Neeraj Kumar and Pankaj Bela are the ones who are suspended at the moment.
Ahead of the demonstration, students had written an application to the administration seeking permission to celebrate Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary. However, students say, the administration denied permission on “arbitrary grounds”. In the same vein, the application to write a letter to Modi was also turned down. Later, the college released a circular on October 7 stating that strict action will be taken against students if they organised the event.
Nevertheless, on October 9, six students along with 100 others gathered in the campus to write postcards to Modi addressing issues such as mob lynching, increasing cases of sexual harassment in the country, the lockdown in Kashmir, privatisation of railways and sedition charges against intellectuals and activists.
“It was our right to conduct the programme. Hence, we went ahead. We all gathered and distributed blank postcards to students to write about the issues that they were worried about,” said Saarthi.
However, the administration tried to disrupt the event, said the expelled student leader Saroj in a press release issued on the same day.
“The administration deployed heavy security and stopped students from entering Gandhi Hill. The students then staged a sit-in at the gate of Gandhi Hill and raised slogans,” said the press release.
On the same night, the college issued the suspension letter to all the six students.
In a joint statement, the six students have accused the administration for being ‘anti-Dalit’ and ‘Manuvadi’ as they allow the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to hold camps on a regular basis in the university.
They have alleged that the college has no problem with commemorating birth and death dates of political leaders affiliated to the RSS and the BJP. In these events, students allege, the vice chancellor himself shares stage with prominent political leaders. On the other hand, the administration raises objections to events about other political leaders, said the students.
For instance, in the present case, they didn’t give permission to organise Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary. Similarly, a few days ago, the administration didn’t allow students to organise Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary in the assembly hall.
“The college provide halls and classrooms to ABVP for their events. What’s wrong if we are organising an event to remember our leader?”, said Saarthi.
When LiveWire contacted the college’s registrar and the public relations officer, both refused to comment on the matter.
In the statement, the students also highlighted the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Chandan Saroj brought to light the rising cases of mob-lynching where the Dalit and minority communities are being targeted. He further accused the BJP for not taking any strict action against those who perpetuate such crimes.
The cases of sexual harassment against former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand and BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar said, are not being seriously handled by the central government. He also called out the government for reading down Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and human rights violation in the state.
Similarly, Vaibhav Pimpalkar and Pankaj Bela wrote about the privatisation of railways, airports and other public organisations accusing the government of favouring the big corporate conglomerates. Other students raised objections over sedition charges against the intellectuals and how Muslims are being repeatedly targeted over the past few years.
“PM ko samvidhan ke in mulyon ki raksha karni hogi….hume PM Modi se sawaal poochne ka samvaidhaanik adhikaar hai. (The PM has to protect the constitutional values…We have the constitutional right to ask questions to PM Modi),” the students said in the statement.
The six suspended students now plan to write a letter to the vice chancellor stating that the administration cannot suspend students without taking into account their version.
However, the vice chancellor has been on leave since October 9.
Featured image credit: special arrangement