The derecognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) by the Indian Institute of Technology–Madras (IIT) has sparked protests across other institutes, with some starting their own forums modelled around the group as a mark of solidarity.
The group floated by students of IIT-Bombay is called the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Circle (APPC). To show their support, at least 60 students from IIT-B and Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) and other colleges protested at Dadar on Monday, demanding that the ban be revoked.
Last week, IIT-Madras ignited a major controversy after it banned the APSC following an anonymous complaint to the ministry of human resource alleging that the group was trying to spread hatred towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi by distributing provocative pamphlets and posters in the campus.
The ministry, however, claimed that it had no role in banning the group and had merely forwarded the complaint letter to the dean of IIT Madras.
Social activists and author Anand Teltumbde, who teaches at IIT Kharagpur, commended the students of IIT Madras for their efforts. “I congratulate you for challenging the undemocratic action by the IIT Madras authorities at the behest of their political bosses… Needless to say India is with you in your fight against such highhandedness of the spineless authorities of a hallowed institution as IIT Madras,” he posted on Facebook.
Calling the move undemocratic, students said the APSC was not given a fair hearing before it was derecognised.
“Banning progressive groups such as the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle is another step to crush the voices of truth. We all have come together to uphold the thoughts of the likes of Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar, Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries,” said S Kavita, a TISS student, who participated in the protest.
Social media has played a major role in mobilising students, with several pages on networking sites popping up in support of the APSC.
However, some academicians are not very pleased with the demonstration.
“Academic institutions are not political platforms. While registering their protest is well within everyone’s rights, nobody is talking about the real problems faced by the backward communities,” said a professor and social activist from Kirti College, requesting anonymity.