Vagisha Kaushik|Dec 5, 2023
IIT Bombay Food Controversy: Mess council’s fine of Rs 10,000 targets 1 student, says APPSC
After symbolic protest by a few students, IIT Bombay mess council, without any prior intimation or hearing, fined one research scholar.
NEW DELHI: Following the furore over “only vegetarians” tables marked in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay’s common mess of hostels 12, 13 and 14, a research scholar who protested silently against this, was fined Rs 10,000 on October 1. However, other students who participated in the “symbolic protest” haven't received any such email.
Explaining the issue, a member of Ambedkar Periyar Phule Student Circle, IIT Bombay said: “Earlier, the ‘only vegetarians’ designated tables' was a mob-run practice for many years and there from the time I joined this hostel. Incidents used to happen occasionally when students were photographed and videographed and mocked in groups.”
However, last month, the council of hostel 12,13 and 14 unanimously announced “six tables exclusively for vegetarian food” via an email to students. The mail from mess council 12 highlighted that “these tables will be marked clearly with a signage”. It further added, “The mess is for all and everyone’s comfortable dining is our responsibility.”
Careers360 reached out to a student member of the mess council and general secretary of hostel affairs of IIT Bombay. Both declined to speak on the matter.
Symbolic protest, RTI
In reference to the email announcing ‘only vegetarian table”, a “civil disobedience” or peaceful protest by residents of hostel 12,13 and 14 was held on September 28 where the “decision to institutionalise segregated spaces” was protested. As part of it, students ate non-vegetarian food in the vegetarian-only designated spaces. A member of APPSC also informed Careers360 that they had also filed an RTI last year in reference to this issue. He explained: “Last year, we filed an RTI asking if there are any separate vegetarian spaces in messes of IIT Bombay where non-vegetarian students are not allowed along with any penalties imposed on students. The institute replied stating that there are no such separate spaces in the messes in the campus.”
The segregation of spaces is completely against the institute policy and Indian Constitution, added another member of APPSC. “There are different counters for people to take different mess food. We are opposing the policy of students not sitting with each other based on their food choices,” he added.
‘Targeting one student’
The research scholar who participated in the symbolic protest received an email on October 1 but with no prior information of the council discussion. “Although the meeting was conducted especially to discuss this instance, no prior information was given to him,” alleged a member of APPSC. “Such actions by the mess council are pressuring the research scholar who is being targeted. The research scholar has asked for seven days' time from the administration along with a chance to state his side.”
To get in touch, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.