APPSC, an informal students’ collective at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has raised concerns via a tweet over alleged dietary preference-based segregation at one of the dormitory canteens, where vegetarian students are reportedly given access to a separate area where non-vegetarian are not permitted.
A member of the APPSC and a PhD student at IIT Bombay said "It doesn't restrict to only sitting arrangements, the segregation goes much deeper. There are differently shaped plates for vegetarians and non-vegetarians along with different stoves in the kitchens to cook meat and vegetarian meals on. There are fines levied, as high as rupees 50,000 for not adhering to the kitchen stove rules."
"In fact, in 2017 few students were also fined rupees 400, for not following the sitting arrangement according to their meal preferences." the member added.
A few students took to Twitter on Saturday, complaining that it was humiliating. They tweeted: “Even though there is no institute policy for food segregation, some individuals have taken it upon themselves to designate certain mess areas as ‘Vegetarians Only’ and force other students to leave that area.”
There is no dedicated separate sitting area for vegetarian students, the hostel general secretary has explained in an email to all residents. Nevertheless, the email acknowledges that these occurrences have been brought to our attention: "We have received reports of individuals forcibly designating certain areas of the mess as 'Jain sitting space' and removing individuals who bring non-vegetarian food to sit in those areas."
The email dated July 15, also reads, “We would like to remind everyone that such behaviour is unacceptable and goes against the values of mutual respect and tolerance that we strive to uphold in our community. No student has the authority to bar another student from entering a space in the mess on the pretext that it is just for members of that community.” It also added that stringent action will be taken in case such an instance is repeated. The institute administration, however, has refrained from commenting on the issue.