Ban on a student study circle in IIT Madras

Condemn the attack on the right to dissent!

On  June 6, following massive protests by student and youth organizations as well as other progressive individuals and organizations all over the country, the authorities of IIT Madras removed the ban they had earlier imposed on the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC).

The earlier decision of the IIT Madras authorities, on the prodding of the Human Resources Ministry of the Union government, to ban a campus student study circle — the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) - had triggered massive protests all over the country. Within the campus of IIT Madras, students organized protest dharnas against the ban. Outside the campus, numerous protest demonstrations were organized by political parties, student organizations, as well as human rights groups.

Why did the IIT Madras authorities ban this student organization for organizing a meeting on the campus on the occasion of the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar on April 14, 2015? According to the news media, an anonymous letter was received by the Ministry of Human Resources accusing APSC of attacking the policies of the present government. Acting on this letter, the HRD Ministry asked IIT Madras to take action, and the ban followed.

In their appeal to the students of the campus and broad democratic opinion across the country to support their protest against the action of authorities, the APSC said amongst other things:

“We plan to protest against the utterly undemocratic move of Dean of Students, IITM under the influence of MHRD, de recognising our study circle stating that we have violated the code of conduct of IITM, which is against the constitutionally allowed right to freedom of expression of any individual or group. By suppressing our right to express our opinion on policies and activities of the present government, they are trying to shut down the pro-people democratic voices in any academic fraternity.”

“Our freedom of speech is not privilege given by anyone; it is our birth right”

We demand

  • Re-recognition of Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle
  • An unconditional apology from the dean of students for misusing of official power
  • An unconditional apology from MHRD and seek reason for its biased move
  • Overturning the undemocratic code of conduct which is against Article 19(A)
  • Official recognition of all independent student bodies and allowing them to express their social, economic and political views
  • Democratic space and equal privileges like Hall, IIT M official mail account, permanent study cum meeting room, space in IITM official domain, etc., for all independent student bodies

We urge all the democratic forces in the country to support us in this struggle.”

These demands of the students are entirely just. The Communist Ghadar Party of India fully supports these demands.

The issue at stake is this: does authority have the right to ban dissent? Indian society has cherished through the ages the right to dissent, which goes along with the right to conscience.

The ruling capitalist class of our country never tires of calling itself the “biggest democracy” in the world. However, the content of this democracy can be seen in that it cannot even allow a student body in a campus to propagate its views, if these views are contrary to those of the government of the day!

The big bourgeoisie rules through the ballot and the bullet. The ballot is used to fool the people, to spread the lie that it is the people who decide who forms the government and what its policies are. The bullet is used to suppress all dissent. The ruling class labels those opposed to it as “extremists”, “terrorists”, “fundamentalists”, “Maoists”, “anti nationals”, “separatists”, “Pakistan agents”, etc., as justification to kill, torture, and jail tens of thousands of our people all over the country. All kinds of fascist laws are on the statute book to lock up people for their views indefinitely, such as the UAPA, the Chhattisgarhi Public Safety Act, and various acts allegedly to prevent “organized crime”. Political and social organizations opposed to the present state of affairs, are routinely banned.

People having a different view on the problems facing our society and their solution, are accused by the state of “spreading hatred and enmity” against the state, of “waging war against the state”. In fact, the reality is it is the Indian state that is responsible for deliberately inciting discord amongst different sections of the people on the basis religion, language, caste, nationality, region, gender and so on. The reality is that it is the Indian state which is waging war against the Indian people, in defence of the interests of the Indian and foreign monopolies.

There is no justification for banning dissent! India belongs to its people — it is not the private jagir of the minority of capitalist monopolies, or their political parties. The right to dissent, the right to conscience, these are inviolable rights of our people. The CGPI considers the continuing struggle of the students and faculty of IIT Madras in defence of these values an important contribution to the struggle of the working class and peasantry for building a society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression of persons by person.

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right to conscience    Jun 16-30 2015    Struggle for Rights    Rights     Popular Movements    

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