Gwalior witnessed yet another face-off between Dalit students and Jiwaji University authorities on Saturday, over a month after they last locked horns over permitting Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations on the institution premises.
The latest confrontation occurred after police booked two Dalit students under the IT Act as well as various sections of the Indian Penal Code for posting allegedly defamatory comments against the university vice-chancellor and other officials on a social networking site. Dalit students took up a dharna at Dusshera Ground in Thatipur area to protest the action.
“The university administration lodged a complaint against two students – Suraj Rajoriiya and Pradeep Jodhpuriya – for posting defamatory comments against vice-chancellor Sangeeta Shukla and other faculty members. We are investigating the matter,” said Gwalior superintendent of police Ashish.
The students, however, said the comments stemmed from simmering discontent over being “cheated” by university officials.
The previous agitation was called off in the second week of April after university authorities gave their assurance that five students suspended for alleged indiscipline would be allowed to continue with their academic activities. However, the institution management allegedly failed to keep its word. Notwithstanding the promises made earlier, the students were barred from appearing for their examinations.
“We called off our stir on the university administration’s request. But then, the probe committee formed by the university administration consisted of professors who were openly opposing us during the protest. How can we expect a fair investigation by such a committee?” asked Jodhpuriya.
Another student, Rai Singh, said the university then began preventing them from writing examinations. “First, they didn’t allow us to appear for the internal exam. Now, they have disallowed us from submitting the form for the final examination on May 24. They are even trying to extract an apology for staging the April protest. We are being harassed by faculty members,” he added.
Jodhpuriya claimed there was nothing objectionable about his Facebook post. “Now they want to prevent us from expressing our wrath on the social media. I didn’t post anything that’s defamatory to the V-C or other faculty members. But they still lodged a complaint against me,” he said.
The university proctor, however, denied the charges. “We gave the five students a chance to present their version of the story before the probe committee, but they never attended their meetings. They aren’t being allowed to appear for examinations because their suspension has not been revoked yet. These students have crossed all limits. They have taken to insulting teachers by posting defamatory comments,” Sharma said.
Vice chancellor Sangeeta Shukla couldn’t be contacted despite several attempts.
Five Dalit students – including Jodhpuriya and Rajoriiya – had taken up an indefinite fast in April to protest the university administration’s refusal to allow the celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti on the campus, besides alleged harassment by law department head Ganesh Dubey and proctor RA Sharma. A girl student also lodged a complaint against a few professors under the Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.