Published: 05th September 2019
Ambedkar Periyar Circle founder kicked out of Madras University course, one month after classes began
The former secretary of the APSC is being threatened because he was part of many protests last year. He says that he will go to court if this is not resolved
August 21 was just a regular day for Madras University student Kiruba Mohan, he went about his classes as usual till out of the blue, he was summoned by his HOD. When he went in, the HOD told him that the VC had asked that his admission be cancelled. He was not given a reason as to why after one month of classes into the academic year, he was suddenly being told he was no longer a student at the University.
It was only a matter of time before he realised it was because of his involvement with the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC).
Kiruba is currently pursuing his second Masters degree from the University. In 2016, he joined the University for a Masters in Journalism, during this time he and a few of his friends set up the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle. During his time, Kiruba organised discussions, gatherings and even protests to raise voice against social issues or to bring attention to concerns students faced on campus. Today, for those very same reasons, Kiruba's admission is being cancelled.
"The HOD told me that he had no idea why I was being asked to leave so suddenly, he said he would try and speak to the VC about it and help me," Kiruba said. But over the next few days, the HOD frequently summoned Kiruba and said he was facing too much pressure from the VC, "He was quite supportive of me, told me that in his 20 odd years of experience, he had never come across anything like this. But informed me that he was facing pressure from the VC and also the Governor of TN," Kiran said.
The HOD allegedly told the student that "pressure from the Governor" was because he had been conducting so many protests during his time as a journalism student on campus, "I was apparently causing a lot of trouble." When contacted, sources in the Governor's office declined to comment but said they had nothing to with the admission and that even though the Governor was the de facto Chancellor of all universities, he was not directly involved.
Kiruba said that a secretary of the APSC during his first Masters, he had protested against various activities of a couple of BJP leaders. "L Ganesan, Tarun Vijay, H Raja and others have been trying to bring Hindutva into the campus and we've been protesting against it. But we also have protested for issues like procuring a sanitary napkin dispenser for women, hostel facilities and even social issues in society," he explained. This year. Kiruba is one of the few, if not the only APSC member to be returning to campus for a degree, which is why the administration is allegedly trying to get rid of him.
Anti-Caste: This is not the first time that the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle has run into trouble
The student who is now pursuing a Master's degree in Buddhism said that throughout his two years prior to this, the administration has given the APSC members a hard time. From threatening suspension to expulsion to never giving permission for discussion events, "They would not give us a hall or auditorium to hold an event even for an occasion like Ambedkar Jayanti. Every chance they got, they would call the police to the campus and even given them out personal phone number and address, so our parents would come to know. They also take pictures of us in the protest, we were constantly being threatened," he added.
Since Kiruba was refusing to leave without a valid reason, on August 29, the HOD told the student that he was being terminated because he did not produce his Eligibility Certificate. Students who join the University from another have to produce an Eligibility Certificate, now since Kiruba was from the same University, he was told he didn't have to produce one, and needed only a Transfer Certificate. Now the administration has used this excuse to throw him out, "There are other students who are from the same university and did not produce an Eligibility Certificate, but only I'm being punished."
Kiruba says that campus has become highly undemocratic, "There is a heavy influence of the ABVP, BJP and RSS. We are not allowed to raise any issues or have rational discussions, we are no more a democratic space. Everyone is scared to raise their voices," he added.
The Masters student, who is from a village near Salem is a first generation graduate and the first in his village to have a Masters degree,"They've asked me to collect my originals and leave the course. I'm not sure what to do now, it's already one month into the year. I will take the case to court if I have no other choice," he said.
The students on campus also called for a protest in solidarity with Kiruba.