The Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN) in Thiruvarur has issued memorandum to 30 students for participating in a weekly study circle meet inside the campus held on August 7. The Registrar of the CUTN has demanded a reply from the students to the notice issued on August 9 to avoid further disciplinary action.
The registrar has also specified that the students should desist from assembling /congregating in the name of students’ freedom of speech in the university campus since it is against the Ordinance No 42 issued under section 6 (xxii) of the act and statue 28 (1).
The registrar of CUTN, Dr Bhuvaneshwari has issued individual memoranda to 30 students for allegedly participating in the weekly study circle meeting conducted by a group of civil service aspirants every week on Wednesdays. The topic selected for the discussion last week was the abrogation of Article 370, resulting in the discomfort of the university administration.
The memorandum also claims that ‘anybody or group of persons who indulge in activities which is a threat to the security and integrity of India will not be tolerated’ and such activity will lead to dismissal from the University ‘followed by criminal action under IPC’.
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A student who has been issued with the memorandum for disciplinary action told NewsClick, “We are regularly conducting the study circle every week. Since we aspire for civil services, we decide topics on all recent developments. Since the union government had abrogated the Article 370, it became our natural choice for discussion last week. The discussion was attended by students belonging to all political backgrounds. But, we don’t understand what made the administration wary of such healthy discussions in the campus.”
The students who did not participate in the discussion were also issued with the memorandum. The students alleged that the administration is targeting the students of minority community, particularly from Kashmir.
SFI Condemns CUTN Action
The Students Federation of India (SFI) central secretariat, in a strongly worded statement, condemned the undemocratic and autocratic move by CUTN administration to curb the freedom of expression in the campus which is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) a. The statement also added that it is a gross undermining and violation of UGC's student entitlements that gives students the freedom of expression and form association as democratic citizens.
The SFI also demanded the administration to repeal the action initiated against the students on an immediate basis.
Students Accuse University of Partial Action
The affected students alleged that the university administration is acting in a prejudiced manner by supporting a group of students following right-wing ideology. A student told NewsClick, “The Hindi department faculty members along with the students distributed sweets on the day when the union government abrogated the Article 370. They also raised slogans in support of the prime minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inside the classrooms. The university administration turns a blind eye to such activities and acts against the democratic actions of students with progressive ideologies.”
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The students also alleged that only the magazine of the right wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is subscribed by the university library. One of the students said, “We enquired as to why only one student organisations’ magazine is permitted in the library to the deputy librarian. We were told that it is due to the registrar’s interest that the ABVP magazine is subscribed. The registrar has been highly autocratic on others while supporting the sangh parivar’s student outfit.”
Posters Pasted in Support of People of J&K
The registrar of the university had also issued a circular on August 7 insisting the students not to assemble for any meeting as per the university regulations. The circular was issued based on information that certain students were planning to organise an event in support of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (K&K). The students of the study circle alleged the registrar of banning the democratic gathering of students aimed only on discussing the abrogation of Article 370 as part of their weekly activities. They also alleged that the Tamil mainstream media had projected the students in poor light, accusing them of acting against the government.
The students also said some students had pasted posters on the walls of the university in support of the people of J&K, however, they denied the involvement of any members of the study circle in such activities.
Registrar Banned Student Activities in 2018
The CUTN administration has been continuously suppressing the student community for expressing their opinion on issues affecting the society, of which they are an integral part. The registrar in a circular dated September 10, 2018, had banned certain activities such as assembling in common places and organising rally against the government policies stating that such activities are prohibited as per CUTN ordinance No 51.
Such an ordinance of the CUTN is against the fundamental right of freedom of speech ensured by the Constitution of India.
The calls made to the Registrar’s office were unanswered.
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