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Maharashtra university expels 6 students for writing to PM on J&K, lynchings

  • Oct 13, 2019, 6:06 IST | Vaibhav Ganjapure, Viraj Deshpande & Balwant Dhage
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NAGPUR: Wardha-based Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University (MGIHU) has expelled six Dalit and OBC students for alleged “violation of model code of conduct” and “interference in the administrative process”, following which opposition political parties have demanded justice for them. The varsity took action against the six on Wednesday after a group of students held an ‘anti-government’ protest on the campus even though they were denied permission for the same. The affected students — Rajnish Ambedkar, Chandan Saroj, Niraj Kumar, Rajesh Sarthi, Pankaj Vela and Vaibhav Pimpalkar — are exploring legal options, including approaching the high court, for revoking the expulsion order. The expulsion has started a series of student protests, which have now assumed political proportions in the peak election season in Maharashtra. The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on Saturday shot off a letter to the chief electoral officer (CEC) for assembly polls, demanding strong action against the “erring” university officials while CPI (M) called for revocation of the expulsion order. Both parties accused MGIHU of a “partisan approach”. The Opposition’s move came after the rusticated students claimed caste bias by the university administration under apparent diktats from “right-wing parties”. They further accused MGIHU of pushing the right-wing agenda on the campus by playing into the government’s hands. The students blamed administration for acting selectively against Dalits and OBCs as all expelled students belonged to these two categories even though over 100 students were part of the protests that triggered the university’s action. They also questioned the university administration’s decision to implement model code of conduct inside the campus. On October 5 the group of students had decided to hold a programme on Wednesday to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the spate of mob-lynching incidents in the country, abrogation of Article 370 and suppressing the rights of Kashmiri citizens, and increasing rate of crimes against women, including rapes, where politicians belonging to the ruling party are allegedly shielded. “We wanted to hold the programme on Wednesday, but then learnt that authorities are forcing us to take permission. Earlier, there were no such rules. When we applied for it, they denied permission without assigning any reason,” said Chandan Saroj. Categorically denying the students’ allegations, registrar Kadar Nawaz Khan said the administration held a meeting with them when they started their programme on Wednesday evening. “The admin tried to convince them while making the group aware of consequences in case of indiscipline. They were clearly told that such functions can’t be allowed inside the academic campus as it would vitiate the surroundings and flout the rules. But they didn't listen and instead raised slogans against the government and administration, which affected other students. The academic campus is not meant for all such activities,” he said. Rajnish Ambedkar said they were only writing letters to the PM about several issues plaguing the nation and there was no justifiable reason to expel them. “They shouldn’t have taken such a drastic step of expelling us over such petty reasons as our careers are at stake. They should at least have granted us a hearing. The university is increasingly becoming intolerant,” he said.

Vice chancellor (V-C) Rajneesh Kumar defended the university’s decision, stating that earlier too the same set of students were involved in similar activities and disciplinary action was taken against them. “A police complaint has been filed against some of them while one of them is facing criminal charges of ragging. Even their attendance is below 75% and these are the tactics to divert from the issue,” he said. Kumar said the orders of rustication were issued by the acting V-C as he and the registrar were in Ahmedabad that day for an event. “We would never have objected if they had written letters (to the PM) from hostel or college. There was no need to conduct a programme for it and disturb academic surroundings. After receiving their letter, we denied them permission for such a programme. It was clearly communicated to them orally as well as in writing. Still they carried on with their programme on Wednesday around 8pm at Gandhi Hall inside the campus and raised anti-government and religious slogans,” the V-C said.