CHENNAI: After another day of protests inside the campus, the group of IIT-M students demanding justice for R Sooraj finally managed to meet director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, who reportedly assured their demands would be met. Later in the day, a probe panel was formed with IIT-M administrative dean P Sriram as its head.
Around 40 students staged a protest at the main gate of IIT Madras shouting slogans against the alleged assailant, Manish Kumar Singh, the institute and the ABVP. According to students, this was not the first time the administration remained just a mute spectator. “We have CCTV footage of the hospital where Manish came and threatened Sooraj, but the administration is not allowing us to share it with the media,” said Abhinav Surya, one of the protesting students.
“The rumour that Sooraj forced vegetarian students to eat beef is completely false. The institute security who was present in the mess was witness,” said another student.
Arjun Jayakumar, a resident of Pampa hostel and a research scholar in Mechanical Engineering, filed two complaints with police commissioner, claiming Manish had threatened to kill him and hang him in public.
A similar complaint was made by K Swaminathan, a resident of Krishna hostel, pointing out a series of events where Manish had either threatened or assaulted other students. The complaint sought immediate inquiry.
The students cited the instance where Arjun was threatened by Manish and gang during a Student’s Advisory Committee for organising a solidarity march against the attack on JNU students on February 24, 2016. Manish was also charged of roughing up Arjun at a Student Legislative Council meeting. The inquiry following a complaint to the dean proved him guilty, but the punishment was minimal, they alleged.
Similarly, on April 13, Manish allegedly assaulted a student Abhishek for distributing pamphlets for a meeting on Ambedkar Jayanthi. There was another verbal quarrel on August 30, in the presence of the professors during a discussion on Kashmir issue. Again, when the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle released a poster in support of Ravanleela held in Chennai on October 2016, he allegedly tore the posters.
‘Free, fair probe’
Here are the oral assurances IIT-M Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi gave to the students:
- IIT will foot Sooraj’s medical bill
- Will form a probe panel. Probe will be free and fair, but it won’t be time bound
- All material evidences produced by both sides will be scrutinised. CCTV footage to be checked thoroughly
- Disciplinary action will be decided based on the enquiry committee report
- Who’s on the panel
- IIT-M administrative dean P Sriram will head the enquiry commission. Two faculty members, Chief Security Officer, Chief Medical Officer, two elected representatives from students, student general secretary and hostel affairs secretary will be part of the probe committee