Recently, IIT Kanpur was in news for the all the bad reasons. First the Rape case and then the ragging case where the administration suspended 22 students( 16 for 3 years and 6 for 1 year). But did the administration took the right decision considering both sides of the story?
An anonymous person went to Quora to tell us everything in detail which clearly shows how insensitive IIT Kanpur administration is towards their students.
Here’s what he said –
The Ragging verdict in IIT Kanpur goes on to prove that the Institute does not care about the students at all. Ragging, an issue which has been prevalent in IIT Kanpur for a long time, has been dealt in a very crude and arrogant manner in the past as well when IITK suspended students for ragging without addressing the greater issue of ragging.
IITK has an old habit of taking harsh actions against symptoms, while completely ignoring the disease that’s plaguing the institute. Even last year, when a massive protest erupted on the campus after the death of a PhD students, allegedly because of the carelessness of the Health Centre, the institute administration seemed quite keen on identifying and taking action against the students taking part in the protest, rather than focusing on improving the condition of the Health Centre, which as everybody knew was clearly not competent in giving appropriate healthcare facilities to the campus residents.
Each fresher in IIT Kanpur is given a Second Year student as their Student Guide (SG) affectionately called as the “baapu” of the “bacchas” (freshers). “Baap Wing Interaction” is an event which happens in Hall 2 every year for god knows how many years (at least 6 years that I’ve known), where the 2nd year students bring the freshers residing in the wing, the respective 2nd year students used to reside in, during their freshman years, to their own 2nd year wings for a night long interaction, where the freshers get to know their “bed-baap” (the guy who slept on the same bed, the freshers has been given this year). This interaction is usually accompanied by the 2nd year students taking the Freshers to the nearby MT Chai Samosa shop for the breakfast. This year, some Y17 students wrote a complaint to the Dean Students Affairs (who is serving his 1st year as the DoSA) about the incident, after which he called a few Y17 students(about 30 students as per the newspapers) and made them write statements about what happened that night. Several Y17 students, as per their Student Guides, were apparently forced to give the names of Y16 students even when they claimed that they didn’t remember the names of those who were involved in ragging. Y17 students were shown one-year-old photos of the entire Hall 2 Y16 (around 160 students) and were asked the identify Y16 students in their respective senior wings (around 24–40 students) who were present in the wing on that day. Of course, this is all based on hearsay and the authenticity of this information can only be verified by the DoSA and the students who gave the names, both of which would never come forward and clarify the same. However, just looking at the list of 22 students, anyone can see the problem in the judgement passed by the institute. 8 students in the list of 22 are there just because they are the Student Member of the Hall Executive Committee, which has the allegation of organizing the “Baap Wing” event at such an organized level, the proof of which cannot be a statement by a Y17 student, given the fact that the statements of Y17 students are apparently the only evidence, the administration possesses. 3 out of these 8 HEC student members didn’t even enter the Hall that night and were out of the hall for practices.
The Dean Students Affairs took up these complaints along with the statements of Y17 students in the Senate Students Action Committee(SSAC), which is the institute body responsible for deciding punishments against students on a case to case basis. The meeting of SSAC was held at around September 3. The SSAC, in its report, recommended that the academic program of the 22 students must be terminated.
At this point, I’d like to pause and bring the focus on a few points.
- Those 22 students were not aware of the proceedings against them, at that point.
- The SSAC Manual(rules and regulations) states that the SSAC must call the students in question to the meeting where the punishments against him/her are being discussed, the student must be given a copy of the complaint against him/her and he/she is given a chance to give a defence.
- None of the above procedures were followed by the SSAC, even when they were recommending a punishment as huge as the Termination of academic program.
- These procedural lapses were pointed out to the SSAC members by the Student Nominees present there, but they were completely ignored by the professors who were quite determined to punish those 22 students.
The recommendations of the SSAC were supposed to be discussed in the 1st Academic Senate meeting of the year 2017–18 scheduled on 21st September 2017.
The online blog written by a professor at IITK labelled all of these 22 students as criminals and registered sex offenders despite the fact that not all of these 22 students were guilty of physical abuse. The charges, discovered later ,ranged from the “Kholna” round (Freshers giving their introduction including name, SG’s name, hometown, department and hobbies in pure Hindi.), freshers’s being asked to dance on normal Hindi songs, freshers being asked to debate on topics to the physical abuse being mentioned in the tabloids ever since the professor wrote the blog. The blog managed to remove all distinctions between the charges against individual students and labelled all those 22 students as criminals, not considering the difference in the level of involvement of the students.
I read many people commenting on this issue saying “Agar itni badi saza di hai, to kuch bohot galat hi kiya hoga in bachchon ne”(Translation: The students must have done something really bad to deserve such a punishment). I pity those who believe that the IITK administration takes all it’s decision rationally and genuinely believe that IITK would not let an innocent face such a severe punishment. Because a walk down the memory lane brings forth so many cases, where IITK administration took irrational decisions without considering the effect , it’s actions can have on the life and the career of the students. Hall 2’s Hall day skit is a classic example of the same.
In the Academic Senate meeting held on 21st September, while considering the resolution of the Students’ Senate on the matter, which pointed out the procedural lapses and requested the academic senate to hear out the defence of the students being accused, the academic senate came to a decision that the SSAC had ignored procedures and that the defence of the 22 students must be heard before passing any judgements against them. The academic senate also decided to suspend the academic program of the students till further order to “protect the witnesses”.
It was at this point that the students were officially conveyed that they were even on the list of accused students.
On 8th October 2017, the 22 students were called to the DoSA office to get their statements recorded. The SSAC made no efforts to conduct any further investigation into the matter (as far as I came to know). It was as if the committee had decided that these 22 students ARE guilty no matter what and they had decided to make sure that these students got the harshest punishments regardless of what the evidence was or what the students said in their defence.
The defence as I heard from some of the 22 students, was more of an investigation than a defence. The students were not even told about the allegations against them and all they were shown was a document listing out the ragging activities, that allegedly happened that night.
At this point, I would like to pause and raise some points. If the question is about the authority, then how is it possible that the Wardens of Hall 2 were not aware of such a large scale incident taking place in their hall each year for such a long time. Why has no action been taken against the Wardens of Hall 2, why is the student administration, action against which is quite easy to take, being made solely responsible for something that has been happening for a long time? How can the committee make the current HEC responsible for an event that has been taking place for several years?
Coming to the SGs, the SGs are being cornered for letting such a large scale ragging take place in their presence and not reporting to the authorities (Head, Counselling Service), however, the committee is completely overlooking the fact that the first thing the SGs are trained to do in their SG workshop (conducted by the Counselling Service) is to try to handle the matter themselves. For incidents they are unable to handle themselves, they are always advised to report the matter to their seniors in the Counselling Service. If tomorrow, some mishap happens in a festival in college, you cannot blame a student volunteer for not reporting the matter to the police, because the first thing they are told in their training is to contact their seniors in case something wrong happens and not directly contact the authorities.
On 9th October, IIT Kanpur did what it does best, punished 16 students with a suspension for 3 years and 6 students for 1 year. The Newspapers were told that the charges against the 16 students were “extremely serious”. But they weren’t told that the students in the group of 16 also had students who were just innocent by-standers, or were not even present when any physically demeaning act was being done.
So, for the institute, asking a fresher to introduce himself (though not in a normal way) is equivalent to asking him to strip down. Let’s not also forget that out of 6 students who have been given a year back, 3 students weren’t even present in the hall, the night this event occurred.
“You should be happy we are not filing a FIR against your ward”, “At least they are not getting terminated” are the replies the parents and the accused are getting from the authorities. The injustice done to many of these 22 students is being portrayed as a boon by the professors.
Apart from the things that can be seen on the surface, there is also an underlying politics between the professors that has driven this issue to the level it has right now. Ragging happens in IIT Kanpur each year and complains are received by the authorities each year as well, but this year, the timing of this outrage is pretty suspicious given that fact that this happened right after the wide scale harrasment of students at IIT Kanpur by the Security Section and the Head of the Security Comittee himself started making rounds on the social media as well as the national media. A more shocking fact is that one of these 22 students was called by the Dean Students Affairs in his office where the head Security Committee threatened him of filing an FIR against him in the case of ragging lest he told them more details about this ragging incident.
I see how the parents of Arushi Talwar were subjected to a media trial and were subjected to punishments even when there were not enough evidences to prove the charges against them and I feel sad about the striking resemblence that case has with this one. I just hope that these 22 students don’t have to wait 4 years to get the justice they deserve. This is a classic case of scapegoating a group of students to “send out a message” ,something which IITK has done in the past as well.