Students march for ban on unofficial groups on IIT-Bombay campus

On Saturday evening, around 50 students from IIT-Bombay started a march from Hostel 12, 13 and 14 and proceeded to central parts of the campus with slogans such as: “Research karo, politics nahi (Do research, not politics)”. The protesting students sought action against “individuals/groups involved in “hurting sentiments of communities using unsubstantiated media reports”. They demanded a ban on all unofficial groups in the institute. The protests were reportedly aimed at two unofficial student bodies — the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) and Swara — a group working on gender issues on the campus.

The protest comes close on the heels of a lecture held by APPSC on “Learning to Recognise Caste” on April 18. Recently, Swara in association with APPSC, started a campaign, where drop boxes were installed for women students to anonymously share their experiences of sexism on campus. While the dropboxes were vandalised, the #IITBWomenSpeak campaign, started along the lines of #MeToo, led to a dialogue on casual sexism on campus.
A student representative of APPSC to The Sunday Express, “Some right-wing forces on the campus are trying to malign us. Some of our members have been threatened of violence. This (IIT-B) is a democratic campus, where students can come together and talk about relevant issues, there is nothing unconstitutional about it.”

The student said: “We have been trying to get the organisation recognised by the institute. A constitution of the same was proposed to the Dean of Student Affairs in 2015 but the institute is yet to take cognisance of it.” Soumyo Mukherjee, dean, student affairs, said he was aware of the protests but did not comment further. “Swara is an anonymous group of students, so we don’t recognise the group.”

Director Devang Khakhar was unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, a professor, on the condition of anonymity, said, “There is nothing wrong with students forming unofficial groups… Why should the unofficial groups be banned?” Participants declined to comment. The Sunday Express reached them through email, which remained unanswered.