Published: 31st August 2019
Periyarist student who protested at TISS Hyderabad 'quietly' dropped from college election committee
Prabhakaran was told first that he was not selected because of the show cause notice, then he was told he had not even gotten through the selection interview
The last TISS, Hyderabad student to call off his hunger strike during the July student protest claims that he is not being allowed to become a student leader on campus. Prabakaran AK says he was initially selected to become a 'returning officer' but was dropped from the list for casteist reasons.
Prabakaran, who studies Public Policy and Governance at TISS went on a nine-day hunger strike against the hostel fees hike after several SC, ST students were considering dropping out of the course as they were unable to pay the fees. Prabakaran was the last one to call off his strike and also called out the casteist comments made by members of the administration. He was among the 30 to receive a show-cause notice as well. He now thinks it is because of the protests and his accusations that he is not being allowed to become a 'returning officer' in the election committee despite being selected for it.
According to Prabakaran, he was told orally on August 21 that he had been selected as a returning officer and expected to get the confirmation mail that evening. But when he did not receive it, he enquired and found out that all the others who had been selected along with him had received the mail. "When I approached the administration, I was told that I had been dropped out because of the show-cause notice issued to me. However, the election committee decided that only students who are found guilty of disciplinary action cannot contest elections, which means it is just a show-cause notice and it cannot be presumed that students who are sent show-cause notices are guilty," he said. The student said this was a violation of the Lyngdoh committee recommendations.
Prabakaran also sent an email to the administration that they cannot disqualify him because TISS administration is a party to the dispute going on in the High Court. The case, the student is referring to is the one filed by the students with the Telangana High Court regarding the hike in hostel fees. "I was told that they have sent an email to TISS, Mumbai seeking clarification on the issue but I didn't hear anything," he said. Ever since, Prabakaran sent various emails, including one to the SC/ST Cell of both Hyderabad and Mumbai as he felt he was being discriminated against. "After that, the administration told me that I had not been selected because I did not pass the selection interview which is completely false because I was told that I had already been selected. Why were they suddenly changing the reason?" Prabakaran said.
Prabakaran said that even the General Secretary of the Student Council also questioned the procedure since as a member of the selecting committee, he was not intimated about Prabakaran being dropped from the list. "The HC also questioned why the students had been issued show-causes without filing a counter," he said. The notice did ask students to provide an explanation but Prabakaran said the administration did not have any evidence to threaten action on the students, "The notice was penned very vaguely. We were told that action would be taken against us if we could not defend ourselves but they did not hold any hearing as to why we should even be issued notices."
Even though he has written to various bodies including the SC/ST Cells in both Hyderabad and Mumbai, Prabakaran says he has no hope that anything will come of it. Besides the discrimination he's feeling with regard to the elections, Prabakaran is also facing pressure in the classroom. "My class was not very supportive of the protests so now I feel completely isolated in class. Thankfully none of my faculty members are part of the administration but I've been feeling very isolated. Even assignments which we have to do in groups of 4-5, I am left out, as only one other person is my partner. So academically also I'm facing issues as the workload is double since it's just the two of us," the student said.
"Once I shared something on our class group and someone said they didn't think I was the one writing the message because the standard of English was very good. Even though some of them speak to me, the hostility is there," Prabakaran said. With regard to election committee post, Prabakaran said he did not expect any help from the SC/ST Cell in Hyderabad as the person heading the body has not been supportive to the students during the protests. "I have no faith in the administration at all, I don't know who to go to anymore," he said.