The students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, have been asked to desist from participating in any “anti-national, anti-social or undesirable activities” by the administration.
The warning was sent through a circular sent via email to all students on Tuesday by the Dean of Student Affairs (DOSA). Students have slammed the circular, saying it seeks to clamp down on their right to freedom of expression.
While the circular does not define what these ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-social’ or ‘undesirable’ activities are, the timing of the missive to the students is suspect.
It has come at a time when IIT-Bombay students are participating in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act; they have also come out in solidarity with students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia.
The ‘warning’ also comes on the heels of a recent week-long voluntary lecture series on the Preamble to the Constitution, organised by the students.
A section of students is also engaged in a wider signature campaign against the arrest of Sharjeel Imam, an IIT-Bombay alumnus booked for sedition.
Students revealed the circular also states that speeches or plays or music or any other activities that disturb the peaceful ambience of the hostel are strictly prohibited, even if the faculty is part of the gathering. Only matters approved by the DOSA will be permitted.”
Students have criticised the circular claiming that it denies them their right to freedom of expression. Pavan Kumar, a student, said, "This circular has been issued because recently, in the run-up to R-Day, we had sessions on the Preamble daily for a week. Students and teachers participated in this exercise to educate each other and spread awareness regarding various principles of the Constitution. Now, we have to seek permission from the dean for organising anything on campus."
The circular also bans distribution of posters, leaflets or pamphlets in the hostel without the permission of the DOSA. It also warns the students against screening pirated or unauthorised or unlicensed movies, instructs them not to move around furniture and fitments, and to refrain from defacing walls, doors, windows and shelves from inside or outside.
It then reiterates general rules for living on campus, that pertain to prohibiting overnight stay of any person of the opposite sex, whether a guest or otherwise, in the hostel after 10 pm.
Blood relatives like parents, brothers and sisters are permitted to stay in the hostel overnight, but only after the permission of the dean has been obtained. This, the students said, was with a view to discourage any kind of gatherings on the campus. A student, on request of anonymity, said, "We all know why we have received the circular right now, when our fellow students are out in the streets protesting. We staged several protests to show our solidarity and support, but the IIT, Bombay, management does not want us to stand for our rights."
The students have a Facebook page called 'IIT Bombay for Justice' to communicate details and coordinate the protests.
A spokesperson of IIT, Bombay said, "IIT Bombay for Justice is not an officially recognised body of our institute. The circular has no new rules. They were always there in the statutes."
IIT Bombay had earlier stated that it is a non-political institution.