Published: 16th November 2023
IIT Bombay obstructs silent event to honour memory of Palestine children who were killed
"A significant security and police presence was noted aimed at preventing the planned and pre-informed solidarity gathering," read a statement
The students and faculty members of the Indian Institute of Bombay (IIT) had organised a silent event on November 14 to honour the children who became victims of the Palestine war. Commemorating this on November 14, Children's Day, the students and a few faculty members organised a silent solidarity congregation near the School of Management (SOM) building. However, the students allege that the security and the administration have obstructed the peaceful event.
Condemning this, the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), an independent student body at IIT Bombay issued a statement today, November 16. The statement says, "The event was intended as a silent show of solidarity, featuring candle lighting and canvas painting as symbolic gestures of condolence and support for the Palestinian children."
"However, even before the event commenced, there were clear signs of administrative hostility. The area around the SOM building was unexpectedly watered, complicating the group's plans to sit or place stationery for writing and painting," it further said adding that "a significant security and police presence was noted aimed at preventing the planned and pre-informed solidarity gathering."
Moreover, as the number of attendees grew, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the institute arrived aggressively ordering the group to disperse and confiscating the stationery items brought for poster-making. He cited a "lack of prior approval for such activities". However, the attempts made by the students and faculty members to have a rational discussion were met with outright refusal and arrogant dismissal, the statement added.
Threats by CSO
"The CSO, shutting off any reasonable conversation, ordered security guards, equipped with batons, to take positions and even threatened to organize a drill with additional guards in the same spot, intimidating the group with the possibility of violence. When asked for written orders justifying their actions, the CSO did not provide any", the statement read.
Despite such threats, the administration's persistent intimidation and attempts to obstruct the events, the participants continued their silent solidarity vigil in a circular formation and the commemoration event was concluded by 6.30 pm. Additionally, after the event at the dispersal, the student community alleges that interactions between the students and professors were attempted to be restricted "with security driving all of them away citing some unspecified diktat against gathering in academic areas without permission."
"The only disturbance came from the security team, enforcing an institutional 'diktat' to suppress any form of silent expression, even if that expression was meant to mourn the thousands of innocent children killed in Palestine, which is indeed a moment of shame for the institution," the statement read adding that this high-handed institutional behaviour will tarnish the image of the institutional ethos.
"rude, unreasonable, illegal, and unfair treatment"
"Peaceful expression of condolences and solidarity for children of Palestine surely comes under the exercise of our fundamental right to freedom as protected by the Constitution of India, and stifling it without any reasonable basis is not only illegal but also sends demoralising message in the vibrant campus atmosphere," the statement said.
Further, it stressed that the IITB for Justice collective strongly condemns the IIT Bombay administration's rude, unreasonable, illegal, and unfair treatment, including overt intimidation, meted out to the silent participants and conscientious members of IIT Bombay.