IIT-Madras row: DYFI members stage protest outside campus, detained
Volunteers belonging to the leftist DYFI were detained on Saturday after they tried to stage a road blockade outside IIT, Madras to protest the derecognition of a students' group for allegedly criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as some political parties expressed concern over 'threats' to freedom of expression.
The agitating members of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) raised slogans against the Modi-led Union government and HRD minister Smriti Irani even as they were whisked away by the policemen.
They also had a heated exchange of words with the police and raised slogans against the management of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) and sought action against it for derecognising Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle recently.
A DYFI volunteer said the "agenda of RSS" will not be allowed in Tamil Nadu.
Security has been beefed up around IIT-M in anticipation of more protests, police said.
Meanwhile, DMK and MDMK expressed "shock" over the "intolerance" shown by the authorities of IIT-M, and expressed concern over "threats" to freedom of expression.
"This stand to curb freedom of expression taken by the institution and the Union government is most disheartening. This incident displays a clear unwarranted interference of the Union government in the running of an educational institution," DMK treasurer M K Stalin said in a statement.
Young minds should be allowed to engage in societal dialogue constructively and dissent should not be stifled, he said, adding, "Such regressive and repressive actions will lead to unrest and rebellion among youth."
MDMK leader Vaiko slammed Irani for saying she had nothing to do with the derecognition episode even as he condemned the institute's management for "stifling" dissent.
"Irani should realise that none has the right to snatch away the basic right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India," he said, while urging that the action against the study circle be withdrawn immediately.
IIT-Madras on Friday banned the students body following an anonymous complaint that it had criticised the Central government’s policies and spread “hatred” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindus.
The prestigious technical education institute acted after the Union human resource development ministry forwarded the complaint, which alleged the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) was mobilising scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students against the government’s policy on the use of Hindi and the ban on beef.
The premier institute's action brought people out on the streets in protest but institute officials defended the move, saying the group violated guidelines.
HRD minister Smriti Irani and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi later engaged in a war of words on Twitter over IIT-Madras’s action even as NSUI workers protested against the decision outside Irani’s residence.
(With PTI inputs)
Watch: DYFI members stage protest outside IIT Madras campus