Statement – 27th November, 2018
On 24th November 2018, two members of IIT-BHU based students’ organization Students For Change (SFC), Vandana and Ipshita (both being 4th-year students of IIT-BHU) received a notice from their Assistant Registrar to present themselves in front of Disciplinary Committee (DisCo) of IIT-BHU.
The reason behind the disciplinary action, as given in the notice was due to their participation in a programme held on 23rd September 2018. Organized by the students of BHU exactly a year after the historic girl’s movement, the event was to commemorate the struggle they had participated and to gather spirits for their struggles ahead. The programme included street plays, poems, slogans etc which was joined by many students who supported this fight for the freedom of girls from this patriarchal structure. While the event made headway, reactionary elements especially ABVP goons tried to interrupt the celebration; shouting out anti-women and right-wing slogans. Initially, the Proctorial Board stood as silent spectators to the activities of these goons but when the hooligans started harassing students, the proctorial board came over and rather than taking any action over the goons, tried to end the programme; pushing the girls inside their nearby hostel, beating students along the way.
The students who are now facing the wrath of the administration participated in the event which commemorated the struggle where a large number of girls stood against the patriarchal and undemocratic attitude of the BHU administration. One year back, the movement triggered after a girl was harassed in the campus, however, the protest was not only the result of that particular incident but was an outburst against the anger and frustration of the girls who had been continuously suffering; be it hostel curfew, lack of security or patriarchal mindset of the administration. This protest had shown that whenever there is oppression on the people, there will always be resistance. And that is why the celebration of this historical protest was so significant for the students.
The current disciplinary actions against the students further lay bare the undemocratic and patriarchal attitude of the administration towards the exercise of democratic and constitutional rights by students who refuse to stay silent in light of the various injustices plaguing the society and nation. While the BHU administration alleges “disturbance of peace in campus” and questions the “character” of the participating girls when they celebrate a historic struggle against patriarchy, no actions were taken on the hooligans who had created disturbance and even manhandled the girls. It should be noted that such passiveness was even after BHU girls gave names of some of the goons to the administration as well as the police station.
This episode reiterates the situation in the academic campuses nationwide where when girls stand against injustice and assert their rights, it hits the deep-rooted feudal-patriarchal mindset of the authorities and is met with clampdown. In this case, students who question the unjust existing system or rule by the authority and raise their voice for their democratic rights are targeted and suppressed, however, the reactionaries who actually creates havoc and oppose any progressive moves are left free by the authorities to exercise their will. Even earlier, IIT BHU administration had issued a circular saying that any act of protest, hunger strike or demonstration in the college will be considered in-disciplinary.
We condemn the authoritarian and prejudiced behavior of the IIT BHU administration, we demand an immediate withdrawal of the disciplinary actions and stand in solidarity with Vandana and Ipshita. For too long such campus spaces have worked towards producing one-dimensional human beings with a technocratic mindset and depoliticized views. In the last couple of years, students in such science and technology institutes have challenged this character and redefined the social role of education. COSTISA is also a product of one such social awakening among students. Now it’s time for the administration of academic campuses including these ‘elite’ institutions like IITs to wake to the ideals of campus democracy and social justice embodied in students’ struggles.
Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA) (www.facebook.com/supportcostisa)
Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras
Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, IIT Bombay
Students For Change, IIT BHU
Students For Change, IMS BHU
Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle, IIT Kharagpur