CHENNAI: The row over beef fest inside IIT Madras campus, which led to the assault of a PhD scholar by a group of students, continued to simmer inside and outside the institute on Wednesday, after IIT authorities allegedly refused to accept the demands of protesting students who sought time-bound inquiry and action against the attackers.
Raising slogans against “fascist hooliganism,” a group of around 60 students marched from the Himalaya Mess lawn to the Dean’s office in the morning to seek justice for A Sooraj, the scholar who was injured in the attack on Tuesday. With the discussions having failed, the protesters continued their agitation and took out a protest march.
IN PICS | Fest gone awry: Hundreds protest at IIT Madras over beef ban row
“We met the Dean with four demands,” said Abhinav Surya, one of the students. Expulsion of the attackers, filing police complaint against them, footing Sooraj’s medical expenses, and informing all the students the details of the issue, were the demands.
Students said they were disappointed by the administration’s approach, adding that only a hostel committee, which generally deals with petty issues, was asked to handle the issue.
“The administration made it seem like a petty issue,” said Arjun Jayakumar, another student adding, “The Dean was forced to talk to us, but neither did he give any assurance nor a fixed time frame for the investigation.” he added.
He said they had concerns about witnesses being threatened, noting that statements have not been taken from witnesses nor were the CCTV footages inspected.
“We will continue protesting till the administration takes some action,” he added.
The students handed over a petition to the dean, highlighting that such “horrifying attacks” would leave a black mark on the prestigious institution.
“The fact that this has happened to a research scholar like Sooraj points towards the magnitude of perversion entrenched in the students who attacked him… We hope the IIT Madras administration will fulfil our demands and uphold our right to life, right to dissent and our right to organise peaceful gatherings as guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” the petition read.
A group of alumni has also written to the institution authorities, expressing their concern over the incident.
Meanwhile, around 100 students from organisations including SFI, RSF, DYFI staged protests in front of IIT against the institute and also the government for not resisting the Sangh Parivar and its member outfits.
DMK working president and Leader of Opposition, MK Stalin, visited Sooraj at the hospital.
Despite repeated attempts, officials from IIT, including the Director and Dean of Students, were not available for a comment on the incident and its aftermath.
One incident, two narratives
There are ar least two versions of the incident. But, what is certain is that it was a fallout of the Sunday’s beef fest held to protest the Centre’s rules restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter
The Beef version
According to Sooraj, a research scholar of Aerospace Engineering Department, and his friends, a group of eight students led by Manish Kumar Singh approached Sooraj while he was having lunch at the mess with a friend. Singh, from Ocean Engineering Department, allegedly took the lead and assaulted him, while his accomplices pinned Sooraj to his seat and held his hands so that Singh could repeatedly punch him. While Sooraj’s eye was badly bruised, Singh fractured his right arm.
This was not the result of a fit of rage, says this section, pointing to Manish’s history of similar incidents. Reporting on the incident, The Fifth Estate, the IIT-M campus paper, said: “[Singh] threatened revenge on the organisers of the [beef] fest on Facebook a day before the event, so the act was quite clearly premeditated.” The paper also recalled previous instances involving Manish, including once when he attacked students in a meeting of the Student Legislative Council and threatened to do the same in a panel discussion on atrocities in Kashmir.
The cow version
According to Manish’s friends, it was a wordy quarrel that worsened due to provocation by Sooraj and friends. Manish spotted Sooraj inside the Jain mess, and asked him about being part of the beef fest and a member of the strictly vegetarian mess. In retort, Sooraj said he was a member of the mess and had every right to be there, and allegedly added that he would eat beef inside the mess itself. He said he would even make Manish eat the meat. In the midst of this quarrel, Sooraj and friends twisted Manish’s right hand. In self-defence, Manish pushed Sooraj with his left hand.
Not expecting this, he lost his balance and fell down, hitting his face on the corner of the bench. His friends claimed Manish had suffered a fracture on his right hand, for which he apparently requires a surgery to insert a metal plate. “We are surprised how things are twisted. Manish is not affiliated to any right-wing organisation. He is a normal student with no political ambitions. Both Sooraj and Manish should have maintained restraint and had controlled their emotions,” said his friend, a PhD scholar from Department of Chemistry, who claimed to be a witness to the incident.