On Tuesday, the dean of students’ affairs (DoSA) at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay issued a circular stating that the administration would take action against students that participate in any “anti-national, anti-social or any other undesirable activities”.
In the code of conduct, which lists 15 rules, the college has said that students cannot distribute pamphlets or posters without prior permission; screen unlicensed/pirated movies, move furnitures from here, deface walls and so on.
One of the rules state that music, plays and speeches that “disturbs the peace of hostel environment” will be prohibited on campus – even if a faculty member is part of the gathering. “Only matters that are approved from DoSA office will be permitted,” reads the circular.
According to the college, security at the college has been already “authorised” to take action for any violation of the rules. It says that violation can lead to “partial or permanent hostel suspension”.
According to a report by the Hindustan Times, the director had directed both students and faculty members to keep politics away from the campus on January 22. During a Preamble lecture by professor Paulomi Chakraborty, director Subhasis Chaudhuri asked students to not make any political statements inside campus.
On January 9, IIT-Bombay’s administration issued a circular asking staff members and employees to not make any public statements that could “embarrass the relations” of the institute with the central government, the Hindustan Times reported.
“The institute may not take a blanket disciplinary action on all protestors, but we are worried that some of us may be targeted for participating in the protests to send a message to others,” a professor said.
The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, however, continued.
‘Atmosphere of fear’
The students at other IITs, including IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee, say that there is a general “atmosphere of fear” in their campus as well. According to a report by the Telegraph, students and faculty members at IIT Kharagpur didn’t come out to protest against the CAA fearing backlash and “threats” from the administration.
The threats, professors say, started in 2018. According to a professor, the administration issued a notice in May 2018 banning ” political/apolitical meeting” without permission. It was issued on May 14, a couple of hours before the students were to start a solidarity march in support of Aligarh Muslim University where a group of students were attacked by the members of Hindu Yuva Vahini.
The administration, professors say, keeps referring to the same circular whenever students and faculty decide to organise any protest on the campus. They did the same this time too.
Some students at IIT-Roorkee speak of the same fear.
“We did organise a protest on January 8, against the attack on students at JNU, and then one more against the CAA, but both these protests were held in front of the main gate – essentially outside the college. The students and faculty are scared to come out and protest on the campus. They fear that the administration might take some action against them,” said a student from IIT-Roorkee on the condition of anonymity.
LiveWire has written an email to the dean of students’ affairs of IIT-Bombay asking whether the new code of conduct rules have been laid out keeping in mind the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. This copy shall be updated with his response as and when he replies to the email.
Featured image credit: IIT-Bombay official site