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Students, Alumni of Jindal University Protest Suspension of Organisers of Ram Mandir Discussion

The two suspended students allege they were thrown out of their hostel rooms at 2 am.
Students protesting at OP Jindal Global University. Photo: Special arrangement

New Delhi: On February 10, two students from OP Jindal Global University faced suspension for making ‘derogatory and provocative statements’ during a campus event focusing on the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

The suspended law students, aged 20 and 21, have been suspended for the entire semester.

A show-cause notice given to the suspended students on behalf of the university’s chief proctor and chairman of the university’s Student Disciplinary Committee (USDC) asserted that the two had violated the Jindal Global University Code of Conduct.

Additionally, it referenced a recent incident on February 7, 2024, wherein the students were allegedly involved in putting up posters and engaging in conversations containing extremely ‘derogatory and provocative language’ aimed at detrimentally affecting the integrity and tranquillity of the university space.

A poster for the event.

The purported intention behind such actions was to incite individuals of contrary beliefs, thus garnering negative attention to the university, the administration claimed.

Speaking to The Wire about the incident, one of the suspended students stated, “[The other suspended student] and I, along with four other students, received a show-cause notice on February 9 around 10 pm. Then, the next day, February 10, around 6 pm, both him and I were suspended for the entire semester.”

She emphasised that they were given a hearing notice at 10:34 am, scheduling their hearing about the show-cause notice, with her time set for 11:30 am and his for 11:45 am. “This allotted time was insufficient for us to attend the hearing adequately. We were not afforded enough time by the university,” she said.

Regarding the event of February 7, the programme titled ‘Ram Mandir: A Farcical Project of Brahminical Hindutva Fascism’ was organised by the Revolutionary Students League, a Marxist group at the university. Alongside the two in question, eight other students participated in the event.

Talking to The Wire, a friend of the suspended student said, “On February 7, this discussion was organised on the university campus around 8 pm. Approximately 25 to 30 people from Abhinav Bharat [a right-wing group] participated in it. As this programme was an open discussion, any student could participate. However, after some time, some of them started chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ while others recorded the proceedings. In response, the RSL also chanted ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Jai Bheem’.”

She added, “Despite attempts by some from Abhinav Bharat to disrupt the event with their chants, the RSL continued with their discussion. They further alleged that some students from Abhinav Bharat recorded a video of their discussion, selectively edited certain portions, and circulated it on social media. Subsequently, complaints were lodged with the university proctor, resulting in the suspension.”

The students alleged that they were manhandled and pushed out of the campus.

On February 11, the day after the suspension on February 10, both students were forced to leave the hostel by the university administration at 2 am, in the middle of the night.

Also, the students who were with the two say their rooms were searched in the middle of the night.

The students were allegedly denied entry to their hostel rooms at 2 am, and their parents called at that time. The students were asked to wait in the parents’ lounge until their parents arrived.

Elaborating on this, one of the students said that “in the middle of the night we were forced and thrown out of the hostel and were manhandled by the security guards. Also, my friends who were with me were searched in the room, which is completely wrong. After I refused to go with my parents at 2:30 am, I was forced by the university administration to go with my parents.”

After the February 7 incident, both suspended students have been receiving threats through social media, including rape and death.

One student said that her father has received death threats on the social media platform X. Additionally, since Abhinav Bharat has made the other’s mobile number public, he is receiving threatening calls and messages.

A friend of one theirs said, “While walking around the university campus, we are intimidated by right-wing people. We are stopped. As we walk down the street, those right-wing people make jokes and laugh loudly at us. Proctors know all this, and they don’t take action because they ask for a written complaint.”

Students protesting at OP Jindal Global University. Photo: Special arrangement

The Alumni Association of Jindal University has written a letter to the vice-chancellor expressing displeasure over the way the students were treated.

“The suspension of two students for discussing the ‘Ram Mandir’ reflects a concerning trend of stifling student expression, which is legally unsound and detrimental to democratic discourse. The physical removal of students witnessed in distressing social media videos contradicts JGU’s claim of fostering a respectful environment. We urge a re-evaluation of disciplinary procedures to align with best practices, reaffirming JGU’s commitment to academic freedom,” the letter states.

A protest was held on the university campus on February 15 in support of the suspended students. More than 100 students participated in this protest and demanded that the suspension of the students be revoked.

The Wire has reached out to members of the university administration. This article will be updated when they respond.

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