TN: Students Accuse Central University of Suppressing Dissent, Favouring Right-Wing Activism
The students of the Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN) have accused the administration of silencing the dissenting voices by permitting police inside the campus and involving in moral policing. The 'Freedom Speakers' Student Community' has accused the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the university of being autocratic in handling the affairs inside the campus.
The administration permitted the Tamil Nadu police when the students had announced a protest on June 22 against the Agnipath scheme of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led union government. Subsequently, the students accuse the administration led by the VC of forming a committee of officials, including the security officer, to keep check of the students' movement.
Several students accused the officials of indulging in moral policing and ridiculed the grievance body for becoming the administration's puppet. The administration has reportedly begun identifying students who led the protest to initiate disciplinary action.
The student body has also accused the administration of favouring the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student movement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to function freely on the campus while restricting others.
POLICE PREVENT STUDENTS' PROTEST
The students of the CUTN under the Freedom Speakers Student Community had called for a protest against the Agnipath scheme announced by the union BJP government. The body termed the scheme regressive and decided to protest on the campus on June 22.
"We announced the protest at 6 pm, and the police entered the campus by 4 pm. They stopped us from carrying the fire torches during the rally and tried to prevent us from holding a protest," a student seeking anonymity told NewsClick.
But the students continued with their protest, marched towards the main gate, and registered their dissent against the contractualisation and saffronisation of the armed forces by the BJP government.
The student body questioned the intentions behind the VC's decision to permit the state police and suppress the peaceful protests.
"The police were harsh with the students and instructed us to seek permission from the administration to hold protests. This is against all existing procedures on the campus. We have also held protests earlier, without creating any ruckus," the student said.
The students had held spontaneous protests inside the campus when the ABVP members attacked students in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
MORAL POLICING ON CAMPUS
Following the protests against Agnipath by the students, the administration has been restricting their right to move around the campus and voice opinions. The administration has formed a committee to monitor the activities of the students in the name of maintaining discipline on the campus.
"The newly formed committee is currently restructuring the CUTN towards an atmosphere where the students are unable to do anything bound by the constitutional ideals," said a statement from the students' body.
The students have also alleged moral policing by the committee. "The administration has removed the permanent benches on the campus to prevent the boys and girls from sitting together. The VC and the officials are leading this regressive step," said a student.
The students resorted to a poster campaign within the campus against the actions of the administration. The students placed bills in several parts of the campus, reiterating their right to choose their dress.
Collage of bills posted in different places of the campus by students against moral policing.
“Several students are being targeted by the faculty members of their departments. One of the heads of the department has warned a student by stating that he will not be able to complete his degree. Such is the status of the administration now,” the student said.
The students’ body has requested their alumni and other democratic entities to join the fight against the autocratic approach of the VC of the CUTN.
‘ABVP HAVING ADMIN SUPPORT’
While a section of the students are intimidated by the administration, another section is reportedly receiving patronage. The ABVP is being guided and mentored by a faculty member from the department of Hindi, Dr Anand Patil, the affected students alleged.
“The said professor is attending the ABVP-CUTN unit meetings and acting as the incharge of the unit. He is visiting the hostels to enrol the students in ABVP. the photographs of his participation are available in different social media platforms,” said a student.
A social media post on the reconstitution of the ABVP CUTN unit in which Dr Anand Patil had participated.
The professor, in his twitter handle, has shared posts from pro-right wing handles including the Swarajya magazine.
“We have lodged complaints against the direct political involvement of the faculty member. But the university administration is afraid of taking action against the pro-right wing people,” a student alleged.
The students have criticised the double standards set by the university administration on handling students’ union activities. One student has been terminated from the hostel citing disciplinary actions. But a student from the hostel said, "This is an action taken purely for participating in the protest in solidarity with the JNU students."
While one section, seeking democratic space is facing multi pronged attacks, the right-wing group is being favoured.
(Newsclick reached out to the Registrar of CUTN seeking comments on the allegations of students through email. No response has been received so far. The copy will be updated once a response is received.)
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