CUTN Students Face Disciplinary Action for Discussing Article 370
August 14, 2019
Thirty students of the Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN), situated in the municipality of Thiruvavur, are now facing a threat of disciplinary action from the university administration, for having discussed the recently abrogated Article 370, which granted special rights to the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
On Wednesday, August 7, two days after the Centre’s abrogation, thirty Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirant-students of CUTN gathered for one of their weekly meetings, prganised to keep them informed about current affairs. Last week, the gathering, named "Freedom Speakers Study Circle", was to discuss the history and origins of Article 370. However, this was interrupted by the administration, and the participants asked to disperse, which they refused to do.
Following the incident, Registrar, S Bhuvaneswari issued a circular to the student community, which read, “Anybody or group of persons who indulges in activities and which is a threat to the security and integrity of India, will not be tolerated, and stern action will be taken against them including dismissal from the University, without conduct of any inquiry followed by criminal action under IPC”. It also specified that the rules and regulations of the university prohibited students from “congregating” for protest or “raise slogans in the name of students’ freedom” within campus, adding that rule is binding and stduents must abide by it. It’s clear that the primary reason for discomfort was the topic of discussion, the controversial abrogation of Article 370, as it was that week’s discussion alone that was interrupted by the administration.
The campus itself has had mixed reactions about the Jammu & Kashmir situation. Following the Centre’s decision, the faculty and students of the Hindu and Social Sciences departments are alleged to have celebrated, with activists of RSS’ student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), having distributed sweets amongst themselves. No reported action has been taken against them by the administration. There were counter reactions as well – on the day of the study circle, posters in solidarity with Kashmiris appeared in various corners of the university campus. One of them quoted poet Farah Bashir – "Some nights I wonder how will I meet my death. Then, I remember I am a Kashmiri and death will come to me as a bullet” – and another poster read “Defend Article 370 of the Constitution”.
Two days after the study circle, a memorandum was sent to all the thirty participants, demanding an explanation for their presence at the gathering, lest they would face disciplinary action. The memo sent to one of them reads “It was brought to the notice of the administration that you had assembled along with other students at 7 pm on August 7, 2019, outside the MP Hall of CUTN as part of Wednesday's discussion of the Constitution of India, despite the issue of several oral and written instructions through circulars. This act has constituted a breach of conduct rules and established procedures”.
Students' groups and alumni have come out in support of the organisers and participants of the study circle. Neethu Joseph, an alumnus of CUTN, wrote on Facebook: “It is no surprise to see such a move from CUTN administration, which is undoubtedly an autocratic and undemocratic one… How unabashedly do these people claim that they will take action against students who talk of anything under the sun? Solidarity to CUTN students who are fighting to uphold democracy. #ShameOnCUTNadministration”.
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