Six students were expelled by a central university in Maharashtra on Wednesday after they held protests against the administration’s decision to block them from writing letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about incidents of mob lynching. The Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, had on Wednesday issued an order, denying permission for an event in the premises where students would write such letters.

The expelled students were Chandan Saroj, Neeraj Kumar, Rajesh Sarthi, Rajnish Ambedkar, Pankaj Vela and Vaibhav Pimpalkar – all reportedly from the Dalit community and Other Backward Classes. The expulsion order did not make any mention of the event, and said the students had been expelled on the grounds of violation of the Model Code of Conduct that is in place ahead of state elections, and “mass demonstrations with the intent to interfere in the administrative process”.

The order denying permission for the event cited another order from Monday, which said the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules prohibited demonstrations and sit-in protests in the university premises. The order warned students and researchers of disciplinary action as such programmes were being held without permission.

The letters written by students during the event on Wednesday protested against incidents of mob lynching, “sell-out” of publicly-owned companies, “silencing of Kashmir”, “shielding of rape-accused leaders” and “murder of democracy” under the Modi government, the Left-affiliated All India Students Association said in a statement. Rajesh Sarthi, one of the expelled students, is a member of the organisation.

The event to write letters was organised to protest against the sedition case filed in Bihar against 49 celebrities who had written an open letter to Modi in July to complain about incidents of mob lynching in India, according to The Quint. Later on Wednesday, the Bihar Police closed the case, calling it malicious.

Chandan Saroj, who organised the event, said in a release that the university administration tried to stall the event. “The administration deployed heavy security and stopped students from entering Gandhi Hill,” Saroj said. “The students then staged a sit-in at the gate of Gandhi Hill and raised slogans.”

The expelled students denied the allegations against them, calling the university’s action “an attempt to crush those voices who opposed saffronisation of the university founded in the name of Mahatma Gandhi”, National Herald reported.

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