IIT-Delhi’s expelled Dalit students demand justice

June 26th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) Scores of students from the Indian Institute of Technology- Delhi, Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Thursday held demonstrations, seeking justice for 28 students who were expelled from the IIT. “All the students were ‘bahujan samaj’ and faced caste-based discrimination and harassment from the faculty and the administration,” Ravindra, one of the expelled students, alleged.

He said the faculty singled them out as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes students and declared them weak students, “incapable of doing well”.

Twenty-eight students were expelled from the IIT-Delhi earlier this year on the grounds of low academic performance. While 20 of them are from the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes, the others are from the general category and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and minority communities.

The protesters, demonstrating outside the IIT campus, Delhi, argued that the evaluation and grading system was arbitrary and lacked transparency. They also said the faculty were influenced by their personal prejudices in their grading.

“The lives of all of us students have been ruined,” said Ravindra added.

The students said that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has informed them that it is “unconstitutional to expel students on the grounds of low academic performance”.

The commission has asked IIT-Delhi director Surendra Prasad to reconsider the decision and has given the administration 15 days’ time from June 17 to reply.

Following the commission’s directive, the IIT-Delhi has set up a committee to review the situation.

But the students were not satisfied.

“Dalit students who have deposed before the (review) committee have expressed their complete dissatisfaction as the committee was not willing to listen to the students’ version,” said a protestor.

The protesters demand the 28 students’ expulsion be immediately revoked and that the existing review committee be disbanded. They want an independent committee comprising “socially sensitive members” to be constituted under the aegis of the government or the human resource development ministry to look into the issue of caste-based discrimination at the IIT-Delhi.

They said that every year there are a few cases of Dalit students being expelled because of “low academic performance” but the number was quite high this year.

Anoop, a JNU student and convener of the National Dalit Student Forum, said the institute needs to “create an atmosphere where the students are not considered weak because of their caste”.

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