The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay has imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on a student protesting against tables being reserved for those eating vegetarian food, reported The Hindu on Tuesday.

The institute’s mess council declared last week that six tables at a common canteen for hostels 12, 13, and 14 would kept aside for those not eating meat. On September 28, a group of students protested against the decision by eating non-vegetarian food at one of the tables. They had sent an email to their mess and hostel administrator, informing them of the protest.

On October 2, students’ collective Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle posted the minutes of a meeting of the mess council on social media.

Referring to the protests by the students, the minutes read: “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 [Students’ Affairs].”

The minutes stated that two more individuals were involved, but their identities were yet to be ascertained.

The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle said that this action was “similar to a Khap Panchayat acting to uphold untouchability in modern times”.

In July, a controversy broke out in the institute over some areas in a mess being unofficially earmarked for vegetarians. The general secretary of the hostel mess had then said in an email that no area could be reserved for anyone, or could seek to exclude anyone.

However, in an email on September 27, the mess council informed the students that it had reserved the six tables to create a “more inclusive environment” for students. “There is no doubt that there are some people who can’t resist the view and smell of non-vegetarian food during their dining, this may create health issue as well,” the email stated.

Among the health concerns cited by students were feelings of “nausea” or “vomiting” while seeing meat or eggs. The mess council also warned that “appropriate penalties” would be imposed if the rule was violated.