Students of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B) are sharply divided over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) with a section of them not wanting the institute to be dragged into the turf war.
“I urge you to understand that the protest is solely an individual right and we should be extremely cautious while releasing statements that doesn’t reflect our individual opinions as that of a larger community. Kindly avoid making such posts,” wrote a student to the students’ affairs council on Friday.
The student also appealed for smooth execution of a bevy of scheduled IIM-B events over the weekend, which included TedxIIMBangalore, workshop sessions, alumni meet and the lateral placement process.
After initial shilly-shallying and deferring a scheduled protest during the day, in view of the police order, some students ultimately demonstrated against the CAA and voiced support to the Jamia Millia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students on Thursday night.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) from 6 a.m. on Thursday to Saturday midnight in view of the shutdown call by social and student organisations.
Despite the police ban and Dean (administration) M. S. Narasimhan denying permission for protest on the campus, scores of students staged a sit-in, near the institute’s main gate, where a good number of policemen and journalists were also present.
A photograph went viral in which students were seen laying placards and several pairs of footwear outside the IIM-B’s main gate, opposing the CAA.
The CAA is meant to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, excluding all types of persecuted Muslims, which included Shias and their sub-sects like Ahmediyas.
Earlier, to bypass the police ban, interested students and faculty members even contemplated that only groups of three would go to main gate, protest and display their footwears.
A faculty member’s email on Friday evening to the IIM-B community, sourced by IANS said, “The student’s unique way of using footwear to challenge the arbitrary imposition of 144 (CrPc section) has received wide attention. We will go out in batches of three, and if this is not allowed, we will have our footwear represent us.”
However, a second mail declining permission for the protest came from the chief administrative officer on Friday afternoon.
“The jurisdictional police authorities have conveyed to the institute that no form of breach of the Commissioner’s order shall be tolerated. It’s hereby informed that no form of protest or congregation with placards or sign boards shall be allowed within the campus,” the mail said.
Despite alls these, a section of IIM-B students protested on Thursday as well as Friday.
On Monday, Harsh Mander, author, activist and visiting IIM-Ahmedabad faculty member, is scheduled to deliver a public lecture at 5:45 p.m. at the institute. He and an unnamed former IAS officer will deliver a lecture titled ‘The Battle for India’s Soul’.
Earlier, in the wake of the police attack on Jamia students, IIM-B students and faculty wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “We call upon you to not trample the democratic rights of citizens to peacefully protest an unjust law (CAA).”
Meanwhile, a faculty member has mailed that protests at IIM-B don’t officially represent the institute, but only the individual voices of protesters.
“The IIM-B as an institution can’t and shouldn’t have a position on matter, such as the CAA. Individuals at the university can, and I would argue, should have a position (for a non-position is a position, too). All the IIM-B community members are indeed doing any of this in their individual capacities,” said a faculty member.
According to an IIM-B source, the students avoid voicing their views or taking a stand on almost every issue directly as it will have a negative bearing on their campus placement prospects.
“Most students don’t dare to share protest information even on the social media for fear of facing a backlash from the school’s management,” the source told IANS.
The student community and faculty members at IIM-B have pro-CAA, anti-CAA and neutral representations.