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Second IIPS Student Arrested For Allegedly Posting Against Celebration of Ram Temple Ceremony

According to the student’s classmates, the police reached the IIPS campus early on the morning of February 21 and arrested him there.
Saffron flags and posters celebrating the Ram temple on the IIPS campus. Photos: Special arrangement

Mumbai: The Govandi police station in Mumbai has arrested a 25-year-old student of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) for allegedly posting a story on WhatsApp in protest against the celebration of the consecration of the Ayodhya Ram Temple on January 22.

This is the second arrest in the case so far.

Another student, who had posted a screenshot of this student’s post, was arrested by the police on January 22 and released on bail after two days.

According to the student’s classmates, the police reached the IIPS campus early on the morning of February 21 and arrested him there.

The Wire contacted the institute’s director Dr S.K. Singh as well as its chief administrator and registrar Prashant Borde for comment.

Borde, who reportedly permitted the police to enter the campus and arrest the students, told The Wire that he was in a hospital and not in a position to speak.

He said this reporter should visit the IIPS for more information.

Singh, to The Wire’s question about the arrest, said, “Please visit the IIPS tomorrow to find the facts rather than promoting a false narrative.”

When the reporter asked if the information about the arrest was not a fact, Singh didn’t clarify.

On February 2, The Wire had reported about the frenzy that broke out on the IIPS campus following the celebrations carried out by right-leaning students in the institute.

A group of students, mostly belonging to Bahujan communities, had submitted a letter to Singh pointing to problem behind allowing the celebration on campus. 

Also read | Mumbai: Student Arrested After Asking Admin to Curb Ram Temple Celebrations on Campus

The letter, the students claim, was confidential and signed by at least 35 of them.

While the institute failed to intervene and offer any solution to the concerns raised by the students, the letter was leaked and soon reached right-wing activists both on and outside campus.

One of the signatories, a 23-year-old student belonging to a Dalit community from Maharashtra, was the first one to be arrested.

The police invoked sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code against him, which deal with promoting enmity between groups and outraging religious feelings respectively.

The student had allegedly only posted a screenshot of the post critical of the celebration.

The police discovered the origin of the post during its investigation and had summoned the other student for questioning multiple times. Originally from Kerala, this student had returned to his hometown a few weeks ago.

“He came back [to the IIPS campus] since he had to take the viva voce exams and also submit his dissertation. The moment he returned, the police arrested him,” said one of his friends and classmates.

The student’s family, which is in Kerala, confirmed the news of his arrest.

The student will be produced before a local court in Mumbai on February 22.

In their letter to the director, the students had written: “IIPS is a multicultural campus annually organising various celebrations which includes Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, Christmas, etc which epitomises the promise of grooming a secular young generation who can contribute prosperity to a diversified nation-state like India.

“But the celebration of Ram temple consecration is a pure act of political agenda orchestrated by the various outfits, which can harm the secular sentiments of students while celebrating in an institute like IIPS, where such celebrations cannot be done.”

The students sought restrictions on celebrations on campus and said the celebration in question had the potential of “further deepening the divisions among [the] student fraternity by spreading hate and fear”.

Soon after the letter was leaked, the students claimed they were bullied into submitting an apology for “hurting [the] sentiments of those celebrating the Ram temple consecration”.

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