Published: 21st December 2019
After IIT M Dean tells students to debate CAA indoors, they hit back by mailing him excerpts from the constitution
The Dean's email was sent on December 19, after the students of IIT Madras staged a protest against CAA and NRC
Soon after the students of IIT Madras conducted a protest against the NRC and CAA, the Dean of Students had sent an email asking the students to not shout slogans and instead conduct debates in a 'well-organised and democratic manner indoors'. "We would like to continue with this tradition and request everyone to desist from shouting slogans or provoking anyone," read the email, which was sent on December 19.
However, the students were quick to start an email campaign. Mass emails were sent to the Dean saying that every Indian citizen has the fundamental right to protest and taking those rights away is unconstitutional. The students have also substantiated their argument with articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) from the constitution.
"We understand and share your concerns about the safety of students who gather to register a protest. It would be foolish for us to think otherwise, given what happened to our fellow scholar Sooraj in 2017, for peacefully registering his dissent," reads the students' email. In 2017, Sooraj R, an IITM PhD scholar was allegedly attacked by a group of eight students belonging to a right-wing group for participating in a beef fest."To provoke is not our intention. However, those who are intolerant to voices of dissent could get provoked, even by a peaceful protest. Please do not shift the burden of their lack of democratic values to students exercising their constitutional rights," the email reads.
The Dean's email also says that prior permission has to be taken before protesting on the campus. However, the students say, "The concept of ‘protests with permission’ itself sounds paradoxical. There could be several instances where there could be conflicts of interest between the IITM administration and the students. Are we supposed to protest against the administration after seeking their own permission, say in case of a fee hike, or a harassment case?" ask the students. "Sometimes, the issue at hand needs an urgent gathering to address it. It may not be possible to inform well in advance to take permission," they say.