NIT-Meghalaya to remove Ganesha idol from campus after opposition by local students’ body
Authorities at National Institute of Technology (NIT) Meghalaya have decided to remove an idol of Lord Ganesha from the campus following opposition to the move by a local student body.
The idol was installed at the entrance to the director’s secretariat of the Shillong-based institute on September 23. Officials said it will be removed on Monday, a week after installation.
NIT officials maintained that the idol was not placed inside the campus for religious purposes, but was, in fact, a decorative item.
“There was no installation. It was a decorative item, which was put in the passage. There was no religious angle to it,” director of NIT-Meghalaya Bibhuti Bhusan Biswal said on Monday.
However, an email invite of the event sent by a professor of the institute on September 22 mentions the idol will be “installed” at 8:28am the next day and asked invitees to be present at the “auspicious occasion”.
Three days after the event, the Shillong unit of Jaintia Students Union sent a letter to the director on September 26 expressing reservations about the installation of a religious idol in the campus.
“The union strongly opposes the idea of installing religious idol in the institution and we strongly urge the administrative level to cancel out the idea of installing the idol of Lord Ganesha,” the letter said.
The JSU stated that the installation could lead to “communal sentiments” among students and staff within the NIT campus who practice other faiths and beliefs.
It suggested the installation of a bust of a renowned personality from the field of science, arts and literature in place of religious idols.
“There was no intention to create any religious issue out of it. But they (the student) thought otherwise. It will now be removed,” said director Biswal.
Started in 2012, NIT Meghalaya is one of the 31 NITs across the country. The institute is functioning from its temporary campus in Shillong at present and will shift later to the permanent one in Cherrapunjee, which is under construction.
According to the 2011 census, over 74% of the total population in Meghalaya are Christians. The state has three major tribes, Khasi, Garo and Jaintia.