Days after some students participated in a silent protest against the “vegetarian-only” tables designated by one of the mess councils at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, the institute imposed a hefty fine to the tune of Rs 10,000 on one of the students while it resolved to identify two others for the “premeditated attempt to disrupt the peace and harmony of the mess”, News18 has learnt.
On Monday, an email by the hall manager of one of the hostels addressed to the protesting student read: “…I am to inform you that the authority has imposed on you a fine of Rs 10,000 (Ten Thousand only), which will be deducted from your SMA account.”
The email communication came after a meeting of the mess councils of ‘Hostels 12, 13 and 14’ on Sunday afternoon, which included hostel wardens and associate wardens to discuss the complaints about the “unruly behaviour and flouting of mess rules by a few students” during dinner on September 28, read the minutes of the meeting seen by News18.
According to the document, the mess council reviewed the evidence available and determined that a resident of hostel 12 (name withheld), deliberately “instigated” the incident during dinner on September 28. “This act was a premeditated attempt to disrupt the peace and harmony within the mess in defiance of the advice provided by the associate dean, SA, as evidenced in shared email communication. At least two other individuals were involved, whose identities are yet to be ascertained,” it stated.
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The minutes further said that it was unanimously agreed that the behaviour of the student in question was “contrary to the inclusive and peaceful atmosphere at hostels 12, 13 and 14 (which have a combined mess) mess. “The mess council resolved to impose a fine of Rs 10,000 on the student,” it stated.
The institute did not respond to News18’s queries regarding the move. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.
During the meeting that was attended by four professors and three mess staffers, they also resolved to enlist the support of student representatives from the three hostels in “identifying the other two individuals involved in the incident. Once their identities are established, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against them as well”.
Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), an informal student collective active on the IITB campus, while terming the action of the institute similar to that of a Khap Panchayat said that the students had protested against the segregation of tables in the mess based on veg and non-veg food by a peaceful act of civil disobedience. “This action of the admin is similar to a Khap Panchayat acting to uphold untouchability in modern times. We condemn this tyrannical decision of the admin and urge to reverse the regressive policy immediately,” it said in a statement.
The move comes after an email communication by the mess council of hostels 12, 13, and 14 on September 27 designated six tables in the mess where only vegetarian food will be taken by everyone. The email underlined that the decision was being taken to make the dining experience “more inclusive for all” and stated that “there was no doubt that some people who cannot resist the view and smell of non-veg food during dining ..which may create health issues as well”, sparking a controversy. It ended up with several students leading a silent protest while some of them sat at the designated tables to deliberately eat non-veg food as a mark of protest on September 28.