Around 80 IIT Madras students staged a protest outside the dean’s office on Wednesday demanding the expulsion of students accused of beating up PhD scholar, R Sooraj, for participating in a beef festival. The accused students, believed to be members of a right-wing group, have a history of violent behaviour and are “a threat to campus safety”, one of the protest organisers told Scroll.in.
The beef festival was held on Sunday evening by a group of 70-80 students in protest against the Centre’s directive banning the sale of cattle at animal markets for slaughter. Many say the directive violates personal rights and will hurt India’s cattle traders, who are largely Muslims.
Students associated with two other groups – Revolutionary Students Youth Front and Democratic Youth Federation of India – also participated in the protest outside the campus on Wednesday. Police detained some of the agitating students while they were staging a rasta roko demonstration.
The student general secretary and two representatives met with Dean Sivakumar Srinivasan. After the meeting, an unidentified final year student said the administration has formed a committee to look into the allegations, but that none of their demands have been agreed to as yet. “The administrators have been very negligent,” the final year student said. “We will continue our protest and not stand down until demands met. They have not even visited Sooraj.”
The protesting students have asked the institution to foot the medical expenses incurred to treat Sooraj, who works on aerospace engineering. They alleged that this is the fourth time in six months that the accused have threatened to physically assault students on campus. The protestors said no action was taken even after they lodged a complaint with the authorities.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had stayed the central government’s new notification on cattle slaughter. It had agreed to an urgent hearing of a plea against the new rules that require cattle traders to give an undertaking that the animals being sold at markets would only be used for agricultural purposes.
On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called the ban “unconstitutional”, adding that her state would not accept the decision. Kerala too had rejected the directive and had organised several beef festivals across the state in protest.