Published: 30th September 2020
IIT Madras students irate as wall built to block out Krishna Gate during lockdown, despite protests and appeals
The students are furious since they had so heavily protested against the gate and 1500 students had even signed a petition to condemn the decision
The students of IIT Madras were in for a surprise a few days ago, when they discovered the Krishna Gate on campus had been ‘walled up’. The students are furious since they had so heavily protested against the gate and 1500 students had even signed a petition to condemn the decision. “The fight for Krishna Gate saw widespread support from students, a signature campaign with more than 1500 signatures, protest rallies with an unprecedented number of students and a blockade of the main gate. The administration simply chose to ignore the opinion of the students and continued with their undemocratic actions,” the students running the ‘Wall Must Fall’ page on Facebook wrote.
They accused the administration of ‘sneakily’ building the wall during the lockdown when no students were on campus to stop it from happening, “Krishna Gate doesn't exist anymore. During the lockdown the administration has sneakily built a permanent wall where Krishna Gate used to be. The road inside the campus leading up to the gate has also disappeared. They have exploited this lockdown and the absence of students on campus to do all this,” they added.
At the beginning of this year, students of IIT Madras were protesting against the administration’s decision to shut off the campus’ Krishna Gate. The gate was the only access for students residing inside to the shops on Gandhi Road. It was also the access for the students living off campus and in that area. The protests drew the attention of a few MPs as well but the administration built a wall at the gate during the lockdown.
The protests against the gate were not restricted to the impact that it would have on students, the block would also deprive several shops in the area of their regular business. More importantly, the wall also meant that it would block off access to the Adi-dravidars living in the area. MP Thol Thirumaavalavan also raised this point earlier with the administration. "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 to the Director. MP Tamizhachi Thangapandian also visited the area and asked the administration to consider the demands of the students and the residents. She also approached the Union Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal about the matter. The administration had claimed that they had come to this decision in order to provide more safety to women students living inside campus and that it was purely a security issue. However, the women students on campus even observed a ‘Black Day’ on campus to show that they did not agree with the decision and that there were other things the institute could have done to increase security on campus.
Which is why the students are flabbergasted at what has taken place now. “It was completely out of the blue. We came to know about it from an outside resident. After that, a friend and I went and checked it and found out it was true,” a student said. The local residents are now considering filing a police complaint against the institute, "We assumed that the institute would accept our demands, then last week we saw that the wall had been build. Due to the pandemic we haven't been able to take a decision yet, we will decide soon," a resident said.
We have reached out to the institute for a comment and will update this copy when they respond.