FOOD FIASCO: NHRC to probe plight of IIT Indore students

Indore: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken cognisance of complaints filed by Indian Institute of Technology Indore (IIT-I) students regarding harassment by institute authorities and substandard quality of food served to them on campus.

“NHRC has taken a note of our complaints and provided us with a dairy number for future correspondents,” said one of the protesting students wishing anonymity. He said that a team of NHRC from Delhi would visit the institute campus to probe into the complaints.  Claiming that they are being served tasteless, substandard and overpriced food, students of IIT Indore have been protesting since January 18. The protests had erupted especially after the popular Guru Mahima canteen on the institute campus was closed.

According to the students, as the protest intensified the institute management started harassing them forcing them to lodge complaints with the President of India, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), ministry of human recourse development and NHRC among other authorities concerned. While the complaints went unheard at most of the places, NHRC took cognizance of the students’ plight.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has also responded “positively” to an open challenge of the IIT Indore students in which they had asked FSSAI to conduct surprise inspection on the campus and collect food samples from dining facility to verify their claims.

“Lately, a food safety officer had come to the Indore campus after being called upon by IIT-I director Pradeep Mathur and collected samples of food served to the students on usual day. As the inspection was not a surprise one and planned well ahead of the visit, there is a strong possibility that the collected samples will not be of substandard quality. Recognising the catch, we gave an open challenge to FSSAI to conduct surprise raids every month on the campus to ascertain the truth,” said the students.

They further informed that the FSSAI has given them a “positive” reply confirming the food regulatory body has also forwarded their compliant to the department concerned for necessary action.

Students allege harassment without committing ‘mistake’

Protesting students of IIT Indore alleged that the institute administration was summoning them and forcing to tender apology for participating in demonstrations over the food issue. A student has lodged a complaint with the dean of student affairs alleging that he was being mentally harassed by his faculty advisor Dr Shantanu Manna for accepting the things which he hasn’t even done. “I am being mentally tortured for writing an apology letter accepting that I was a part of protest that happened some time ago. But, I want to say that I was never a part of any of these activities although I do have some problems of food on the campus. When those incidents (protests) happened I wasn’t even present on the campus due to blood infection and viral fever. I left for my home town on January 18 morning (when the protests over food issue erupted) and I came back to join the college after Republic Day,” the student complained. He also attached copy of his medical certificate as a proof of his illness during the claimed period.

Algae in drinking water

Students of IIT Indore have posted a photo of small drinking water tank in which algae can be seen. The students claimed that the water tank is of Taste Buds, one of the food joints on the campus. The students further alleged that foods joints operating on the campus do not maintain cleanliness and hygiene, despite the institute director claiming otherwise. Notably, the director a few days ago said there was no issue with the food at all and only a handful of students were participating in the protests.

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