IIT Bombay has been gripped with yet another controversy as Leftist student groups try to protest the Citizenship Amendment Bill even as IIT B students support the bill. The limited protests have been mainly organised by Leftist circles like the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), Ambedkarite Students’ Collective (ASC) etc. The paltry number of students who are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill are mainly PhD students from the Humanities department and belong to Leftist student bodies.
The Leftist students’ group even released a press note earlier today that spoke about upholding the ‘secular values’ by opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Though they are few in number, their press note almost gives an impression that the entire student population of IIT-B are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
In their press note, while talking about opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the few students belonging to Leftist organisations say that CAB aims to provide persecuted sections like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians etc from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but ignores that far more persecuted communities like Rohingyas, Ahmadiyyas, Tamils from Sri Lanka etc. Further, the note says that CAB is exclusionary and is a threat to the secular fabric of India. Repeating arguments of the constitution that were earlier debunked by veteran advocate Harish Salve, the press note mentions that this is just another step towards the establishment of ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Speaking about NRC, they further fearmonger and allege that fears are growing that Muslims would be the only ones to lose their citizenship.
The last part of the press note is especially hilarious where they apparently oppose the ‘manuwadi’ project of CAB. While signing the press note, the handful of PhD students from the Humanities department of IIT B sign it off as “IIT Bombay for Justice”.
OpIndia reached out to some students from IIT-B to understand if this protest is actually one that is driven by most students of IIT-B or just some Leftist students belonging to specific organisations.
Common students of IIT Bombay have started an online campaign in support of Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019. Wherein they are uploading there WhatsApp, facebook statuses in favour of the Bill.
The students we spoke to sent us some screenshots of their campaign.
The students of IIT Bombay that we spoke to did not want to reveal their identity fearing repercussions from left-leaning faculty.
The students that spoke to OpIndia said, “Today a left-leaning group is planning to disturb the atmosphere of the campus by organising an unwanted protest. They are trying to play smart by not giving their names in posters but they have been organising various anti-social activities on campus.”
The other student belonging to PhD in CSE said “This is the best time for them to organize a protest as Undergraduate students are not on campus. Some left-leaning newspapers will pick the story and it’ll seem like the entire IIT Bombay is against the Bill which is not the case. I think the world should know that the common students of IIT Bombay are with the sentiment of the Nation.”
Essentially, several students of IIT-B that OpIndia spoke to said that the “students” organising this so-called protest belong to Leftist organisations and are mainly PhD students from the Humanities department. They also said that they have chosen this time to organise these protests because other BTech students are on vacation and they can easily present their one-sided narrative to Left media thereby defaming not only IIT-B but also the nation.
The fear that the IIT-B students express is that this limited protest by Leftist students will be used by the Left media to paint the entire institution with the same brush as was done before.
Here are the number of Leftist students protesting against CAB.
Earlier as well, The Wire had tried to take a limited protest by Leftist student organisation in IIT B, Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), and tried to paint the protest as one by the entire student population of IIT-B. On 11th August 2018, Prime Minister Modi addressed the 56th convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B).
The Wire had at that time published an article headlined “IIT Bombay students question the decision to invite Modi to Convocation ceremony”. Amongst questioning what the government had done, this anonymous group of students, according to The Wire asked whether the Prime Minister wants education for all, or is he more interested in “promoting the Brahmanical idea of education only for a few people, belonging to upper caste and upper-class backgrounds”. The anonymous students had also, according to The Wire questioned Prime Ministers’s silence on hate crimes in the country.
However, when OpIndia had spoken to students of IIT B, it was revealed that the student group that had issued the statement was APPSC – The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle. One student, on condition of anonymity, had told us that “these kinds of groups needlessly create trouble in the campus and create instability in the institute by talking about caste and religious issues that have no importance in student life”.
“Our campus doesn’t have politics. When we have student elections, unlike in JNU type campuses, we don’t have party-affiliated organizations. This is an attempt to poison the academic atmosphere. I don’t trust ‘The Wire’ at all. Aren’t they the same publication that tried to bring caste into cricket? now they want politics into IITs,” another student had said.
It is thus reasonable for students of IIT-B to fear that this limited protest by a handful of Leftist students of IIT-B might turn into a campaign by the Left media to tarnish the institution and incorrectly insinuate that the entire institution is against the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill.