Wednesday, May 22, 2024

TISS Mumbai suspends left student leader for two years for participating in protests, questioning BJP govt

Ramadas Prini Sivanadan, a PhD scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai and a prominent left student leader in the campus was arbitrarily suspended for two years by the administration for participating in protests and questioning the ruling Hindu nationalist regime.

Ramadas, a Dalit student from Kerala’s Wayanad is a research scholar in Development Studies in TISS Mumbai campus. The administration also debarred his entry across all TISS campuses.

Ramadas is a former general secretary of the Progressive Students’ Forum (PSF), a left students’ collective at TISS Mumbai that vehemently opposed the administration’s move in a statement.

Ramadas who is an active student leader in TISS Mumbai is now a member of Central Executive Committee of SFI and Joint secretary of SFI Maharashtra.

The suspension charges include questioning the Union government and its policies and programs, appealing students to watch Ram Ke Naam—a national award winning documentary and attending a student protest in the national capital as violations of TISS’ code of conduct.

The notice of suspension comes a month and a half after a show cause notice was issued to Ramadas, following his participation in the Parliament March in New Delhi in January 2024, organised under the banner of ‘United Students of India’.

”It has come to notice of this Institute that, you staged demonstration outside Indian Parliament at New Delhi on dated 12 January, 2024 under the banner of organisation PSF – TISS. The said organisation is not recognised by TISS and has no connection with any activity of TISS, still, the word “TISS” is being misused, which wrongfully creates na impression that ti has some association with TISS and its view are endorsed by TISS. Further, you have also posted some pamphlets on social media sites calling upon to join screening of the documentary “Raam Ke Naam” on 2 6 January, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. as a mark of dishonour and protest against the Ram mandir inauguration in Ayodhya,” read the show cause notice.

“Being a first generation learner, comrade Ramadas has unequivocally defended student rights on campus and worked hard to build joint platforms and alliance among all students organisations. He is also a representative of the `United Students’ of India‘ which is a joint platform of different student organisations across the country,” read a statement by PSF.

“The current administration has shamefully equated the work he has undertaken for the student community at TISS and his persistent questioning of the BJP to being ‘anti-national’,” it added.

“The scapegoating of a student coming from a marginalised background highlights the hypocrisy in what the administration preaches in academics and the actions it undertakes in reality,” alleged PSF.

The left student collective alleged that the TISS administration signalled the students that discourses of democracy and freedom of speech are only justified within the confines of the classroom.

“If a student dares to express their opinion publically, they will be hunted down by the administration and labelled ‘anti-national’—especially if the student comes from a marginalised background—so much for an Institute that takes pride in its academic excellence and freedom!” the student body said.

It further said: “At a time when the TISS administration refuses to provide hostels for all, hikes fees, and bans student-led events, it has found the time to carry out a brutal attack on the future of a promising research scholar. The timing of the notice is also not an accident. The administration cleverly devised a plan to release it once vacation begun so that students would not be on campus to resist.”

The suspension of Ramadas is not at all an isolated incident, it noted.

“It is an open warning to all students of TISS against organising and calling out the anti-student policies of the administration. However, the history of TISS has shown us that when students come together they can defeat this fascistic TISS administration,” read the statement.

PSF urged the student body of TISS to come together not just to revoke the suspension of Ramadas, but resist the attack on the autonomy and independent voice of students.


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