Kanpur: Authorities at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, recently asked its students to remove an article published on their popular e-magazine Vox Populi. The article presented the students’ views on the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and an action taken by the institute to probe a protest carried out by them on the IIT campus.
The institute said the action was taken following the advice of an investigation committee formed to look into complaints of “objectionable” slogans shouted during a protest march organised by IIT-Kanpur students on 17 December. The protest had been planned to extend solidarory to students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University who faced police action for protesting against the CAA.
After the solidarity march on 17 December, some faculty members and students from the Institute had complained to the IIT-Kanpur director that some words and slogans used during the march have hurt Hindu sentiments. In their explanation, the students who had organised the march said they were only reciting renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s lines — “Sab Taaz uchale jayenge, Sab takht giraye jayenge, bas nam rahega Allah ka, jo gayab bhi hai aur hazir bhi (All the crowns will be thrown off, and thrones will be overturned, only Allah’s name will remain, who is both invisible and visible).
IIT-Kanpur Director Abhay Karandikar had then formed an investigation committee comprising some faculty members.
Reacting to the development, the IIT-Kanpur students presented the side of the organisers in an article, titled ‘Don’t communalize the peaceful gathering at IIT-Kanpur’, on Vox Populi.
The committee asked the online magazine late Thursday evening to remove the article.
Speaking to ThePrint, IIT-Kanpur Deputy Director Dr Manindra Agrawal confirmed this and said the action aimed to maintain a cordial atmosphere inside the campus. He said the fight between the two groups (those who organised the march and those who complained against it) was continuously escalating, with students making comments against each other on social media.
“We are fully in support of democratic rights for all. It is everyone’s right to conduct a peaceful protest. However, on several occasions strict actions need to be taken due to increasing tension in the campus,” Agarwal said.
A first for Vox Populi
The students of IIT-Kanpur have been running Vox Populi for the last three years. The online magazine carries articles on issues related to the campus. The Facebook page of the magazine has posted that it is the first occasion when the editorial team had to remove any post.
“The editorial was the opinion of the editorial board on the issue surrounding the 17th December march. As a team, we stand by every word in our editorial, but as per instructions, we have to take it down,” the post reads.
It adds: “This is the first time, since the launch of the online edition of Vox Populi, that we are pulling down any article following instructions from the administration.”
The students claimed “no objectionable words of any kind” were used during the protest march. ‘Hum Dekhnege’, the Faiz poem, has been for long recited as a challenge to the authorities. Some live videos posted on social media, the students said, showed a truncated version of the poem featuring only one line, “…bas naam rahega Allah ka”, which enraged some students and teachers who raised objection and allegedly started making a ruckus.
After the complaints, Director Karandikar said the institute does not allow any permission to carry out such protests, and that a committee will be formed to probe the matter.
Institute never permitted any such protest/march etc. DD & Dean advised students against such activity. A high-level committee with the power to take disciplinary action has been constituted based on complaints received. @IITKanpur system does not tolerate any indiscipline. https://t.co/zwpRBrRlgM
— Abhay Karandikar (@karandi65) December 21, 2019
During the investigation, Agrawal told ThePrint, the committee did not find anything objectionable, but a decision was still taken to remove the article from the e-magazine’s website to prevent any tension on the campus.