The New Delhi-based Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), among the country’s best known journalism schools, has ordered an investigation after a group of Dalit and tribal students complained of caste discrimination on the campus, officials said on Wednesday.
The students have alleged that a section of their peers was harassing them, including running an online campaign against their support for Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar whose suicide last month triggered nationwide protests against caste discrimination on campuses.
The students have written to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Commission, the IIMC authorities and the liaison officer of the Institute’s SC and ST Cell, alleging that social media posts demeaning Dalit and tribal students were circulating since January 18.
“In the campus there is an air of worry... Comments are being passed and remarks made loud when the students pass through the corridors in the college and hostels,” the group said in the complaint letter.
A source at the institute said trouble began with a Facebook post by a student who used “inappropriate words” for reservation and the ongoing protests against caste-based discrimination.
“Based on the complaint of the Dalit and Adivasi students, the IIMC has now decided to set up a committee to examine the issue,” the source said.
The five-member panel, which includes both faculty and students representing the communities, will examine the complaint, propose long term measures as safeguards against such discrimination and also frame a module for carrying out caste sensitisation on the campus.
The committee will also examine how to implement rules for social media use by students and faculty members.
But the complaining students said that wouldn’t be enough and have approached the SC/ST commission.
The students have, however, said they don’t want punitive action against the accused and a public apology and an undertaking that they would desist from such behaviour would do.
They have also asked for a “slot in the academic timetable” to sensitise students on India’s caste and tribal realities and the need for affirmative action.