IIT Madras orders enquiry over posters marking separate entrance/exit, handwash areas for non-vegetarians

One of the north Indian messes in Himalaya building inside the campus, put up posters marking separate entrance/exit and handwash areas for students choosing vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

Published: 15th December 2018 04:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2018 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

IIT Madras mess

A sign indicating entry/exit points for non-vegetarians and vegetarians in IIT-Madras. (Photo | APSC Facebook page)

Express News Service

Within days of facing a backlash for putting up details of a student using condoms on the hostel notice board, IIT Madras has stoked another controversy on Friday.

One of the north Indian messes in Himalaya building inside the campus, put up posters marking separate entrance/exit and handwash areas for students choosing vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

However, the posters were removed by evening and new rules were relaxed only 'partially' after Express published an article on its website, which went viral. The incident has created an unrest of sorts in the campus, with a section of students calling it 'untouchability'.

READ | Row over separate entrances and utensils for veg, non-veg students at IIT-M mess

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an independent student body in IIT Madras, has shared the pictures of the posters pasted on the walls of the second floor of Himalaya mess, where the 'new' system was introduced.

"Upper-caste households in India would usually have two entrances - one for the upper castes and the other one in the back, for the 'impure' lower castes. A mess in IIT Madras now has the same system.
This mess has two separate entrances for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Not just that - separate wash basins and separate utensils as well. What started as a demand for a 'pure' vegetarian mess, has become full-fledged untouchability. IIT Madras is trying to become a world-class institute, but the culture inside is still regressive in many aspects!" reads the APSC facebook post.

The Himalaya is a three-storied building with a capacity to accommodate six caterers. This being vacation time, four canteens were being operated, which includes two south Indian and two north
Indian caterers.

This new system was introduced in RRC North Indian mess on the second floor and one of the staff there told the Express that there were instructions from the mess monitoring committee.

The mess has egg and chicken in its non-vegetarian menu.

"The demand for a pure vegetarian mess has been there since long, but before taking any such decision, the students need to be informed. The posters have emerged overnight," said a former student legislator.

Express has accessed couple of students emails of the past, where the demand for a pure vegetarian mess was put forth. In fact, a student poll was also conducted in 2017, but due to lot of opposition, the plan was temporarily dropped.

When contacted, an IIT official downplayed the controversy and said this particular mess alone serves Jain food.

"The Mess monitoring committee must have taken the decision for the comfort of the students. There are several other canteens where there are no such conditions," the official said.

Posters moved, enquiry ordered

A clarification mail was sent, addressed to all the students and Dean, Students, Sivakumar, from Nihal K, secretary of hostel affairs.

The mail says, "It has been brought to attention that a certain poster detailing an area of wash basin to be earmarked for vegetarian students, was found in RRC mess, Himalaya. The caterer has been instructed to remove the poster immediately upon its discovery by the Mess Monitoring Committee (MMC).

The same has been undertaken by the caterer in their own volition and was not a directive given by the MMC. In due course of time, action will be taken on the caterer after an enquiry on the incident. It has also been noted that concerns have been raised regarding two entrances to the mess.

The entrances have been provided with that way so as to make the passage to each counter easier, and not to restrict passage from one to another, or differentiate students in any capacity. The posters have been removed from the facility as soon as the error was pointed out. Apologies for any inconveniences caused," the secretary said.

However, some students are still not convinced by the explanation.

"In the first place, there is no need for two entrances. Without specific instructions from the MMC, no caterer would introduce such a rule," a student said.

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  • CP Venkatesan

    Keeping separate restaurant one for vegetarian and another for non-vegetarian with separate washing of vessels and hand wash is not a crime. Only people with ulterior motive to make it a big issue is a crime. Even in star hotels they keep vegetarian and non-vegetarian items are kept with separate labels. But the persons willing to share the same table and wash are their own interest. Lots of marriages are done keeping items separately. One would have witnessed vegetarians attending marriages where vegetarian and non-vegetarian items are prepared
    5 months ago reply
  • Subramaniam Narasimhan

    A mountain has been made out of a non-existing molehill. This newspaper need not have published this trash
    5 months ago reply
  • Abhijit Kiran

    Useless periyar group is the root cause of all problems. They are studying in IIT for timepass and create nuisance.
    6 months ago reply
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