Published: 03rd January 2020
Is IIT Madras practising untouchability against Adi-Dravidar residents by cutting off access to campus?
Lok Sabha MP Thol Thirumaavalavan has submitted a representation to the management accusing them of practising untouchability by blocking off the only gate providing access to the community
Lok Sabha MP Thol Thirumaavalavan has called out IIT Madras' decision to shut down Krishna Gate as an act of practising untouchability In his letter to the Director of IIT Madras, Bhasker Ramamurthi, the MP said the decision to block off the campus to Adi-Dravidars living in the area is unlawful and was an act of caste discrimination.
Ever since the administration decided to block Krishna Gate for 'security' reasons, students have been agitating since it cuts off their access to the shops on Gandhi Road. The students have complained that this would mean they have to walk 2 kms to access the shops. But there seems to a bigger problem that the gate is causing to the Adi-Dravidar's settled in the area. Ironically, the Adi-Dravidars said, they had previously owned the land and had donated it to the campus. In return though, they had been promised jobs, given access to move around the area and told that their children would be allowed to enrol in the schools inside the campus.
In his letter, Thirumaavalavan stated these claims were made by people that he knew personally and therefore believed their statements. "In 1956, the Adi Dravidar people holding housing patta plots and agricultural lands came forward to donate their lands conditionally to the IIT. These conditions were — that their children would be given admission in the schools located inside IIT, that the IIT gates would be freely accessible for them to move around and that employment opportunities would be provided to the people," he said in his letter.
The MP went on to explain that as per the mutual agreement between the people and the IIT, the Adi- Dravidar community people had been accessing the campus through Krishna Gate from 1960. "It was in 1972 during the tenure of then director A Ramachandran that some of the Adi-Dravidar people were given employment but since then not a single opportunity has been given to them. Now it has become worse with the shutting down of Krishna Gate without any prior notice," the MP said.
He went on to state that the shut down has caused severe inconvenience, hardship and agony to school children, aged and sick, pensioners in particular and others because they are denied freedom of movement. "There are four gates on campus, the Adyar Gate, the Taramani Gate for the Yadava community, the Velachery Gate for the Vanniyar community and the Krishna Gate for the Adi-Dravidar community," the MP stated in his letter.
"When the other gates remain accessible to other communities and only gate for Adi-Dravidars has been blocked, it can only be presumed that it is being done with the ill-intentions of untouchability. Not only has it ruined the livelihood of the community but this is also an act that is unlawful and discriminatory on the basis of caste," he wrote in his representation.
Thirumaavalavan demanded an immediate intervention in the matter, "We demand the management to immediately open the gate so that they can express that there is no purposeful intention of committing the crime of untouchability," he said. He also added that he personally knew a lot of the people who had approached him, " I sincerely believe their statement of facts. Kindly address the issue and reopen the gate," he added.
Previously DMK Lok Sabha MP Tamilachi Thangapandian had also visited the campus and spoke to the students. She had promised to take up the issue with the MHRD.