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No ‘anti-national’ activities, plays or music — IIT Bombay diktat to hostel students

Amid anti-CAA protests on the campus, IIT Bombay's new hostel rules also prohibit distribution of posters, leaflets and pamphlets.

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New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay has issued a circular asking the student of its hostels not to participate in any “anti-national” activities.

“…residents should not participate in any anti-national, anti-social and or any other undesirable activities,” says the ‘Hostel Conduct rules’ notice sent to the students Tuesday. 

The institute, however, did not specify the activities that it considers “undesirable”.

The ‘Hostel Conduct rules’ notice, seen by ThePrint, lists a number of restrictions, and warns the hostel residents of action by “security of IIT Bombay” if the rules are violated.

To be “strictly implemented” The new rules come amid protests on campus against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and agitations in solidarity with the protesting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Jamia Millia Islamia. 

The circular also comes after a signature campaign was run by the students and alumni of different IIT campuses, including Bombay, and other educational institutes in favour of former IIT Bombay student Sharjeel Imam who has been arrested on sedition charges for a speech. The students running the signature campaign believe that Imam is being victimised.

ThePrint spoke to a few students from IIT Bombay and all of them confirmed that they received the new “hostel conduct rules” Tuesday that contained the restrictions.

What the IIT Bombay notice says

Point number 1 in the new list of rules says no distribution of any poster, leaflet or pamphlet will be allowed in the hostel without permission from the respective hostel council or the Dean of Student Affairs (DoSA).

Point number 2 says speeches, plays and music or other activities that disrupt the peace of the hostel environment is prohibited, even if faculty members are part of it. the only events to be allowed are those approved by the DoAS office.

The students that ThePrint spoke to said they had major disagreements with both these points, besides the 10th point that refers to “anti-national” activities.

There are a total of 15 points in the circular in all, listing usual norms expected to be followed by the residents. Points like “Ragging is criminal offence”, smoking and consumption of alcohol and drugs are “prohibited”, and screening of pirated films are listed too.

The notice says violation of any of the 15 rules can lead to “partial or permanent hostel suspension”.

Also read: Sharjeel Imam comments ‘cherry-picked’ — IIT students, alumni say he is being victimised

‘Infringes on fundamental rights’

Students are up in arms against the rules. 

“Anti-national activity has not been defined and that gives the institution the opportunity to brand any activity or individual anti-national,” said a PhD student, who did not wish to be named.   

The students also said it violates their fundamental rights in general and Article 19(1)(a) in particular. “We feel that the central government is making the institution do this and they’re falling to their pressure,” a second PhD student said. 

The students said this is the first time that they have been sent a notice like this.

ThePrint contacted the institute director, the DoSA and the IIT PRO through email, phone calls and WhatsApp messages but received no response. The report will be updated when they respond.  

Rules amid protests on campus

IIT Bombay students have been participating in the protests against the Citizenship Act and also stood in solidarity with JNU after an armed mob attacked the university campus in Delhi on 5 January.

The students had held protests on 11 December and 12 December, right after the Rajya Sabha passed the amended law. They had then marched from the School of Management to Hostel 12.

When violence hit Jamia, a midnight march was held on the campus. Following this, students stood with posters on campus after JNU students were attacked in the first week of January.   

From 6-15 January, the students held protests at the School of Management against the Citizenship Act and followed it up with a preamble lecture series between 16 January and 25 January. On 26 January, artiste Varun Grover had joined the students on the campus.

Students are now running a signature campaign against the arrest of Sharjeel Imam, who has been accused of sedition. Imam is an IIT Bombay alumnus. 

Also read: IIT-Bombay study finds giant viruses, and the unique protein they make, in Mumbai lakes


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