IIT Bombay 'obstructs' students gathering to remember Palestinian children killed in bombings

IIT Bombay students condemned administration's 'aggressive' actions against the students gathered on Children's day to remember children killed in Palestine.

IIT Bombay students issued a statement against the administration's action against the recent congregation organised to remember children of Palestine. (Image: X/@IITB4Justice)IIT Bombay students issued a statement against the administration's action against the recent congregation organised to remember children of Palestine. (Image: X/@IITB4Justice)

Anu Parthiban | November 16, 2023 | 01:39 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) students have condemned the obstruction caused by the administration during the silent solidarity congregation organised by students and faculty.

On November 14, the IIT-B students and faculty held a silent solidarity congregation near the School of Management (SOM) building to honour the memory of the children who are continuously being killed in the ongoing bombings by Israel in Palestine.

“So far over 11,000 people have been killed in Palestine with over 66% being children and women according to the UN Humanitarian Office. UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell has noted that "more than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day, a number which should shake each of us to our core",” the statement read.

The students said that the event was organised featuring candle lighting and canvas painting as “symbolic gestures” of condolence and support for the Palestinian children.

However, even before the event commenced, the administration watered the area around the building and a significant presence of security and police was enforced.

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Actions taken by IIT Bombay

Later, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of IIT Bombay arrived “aggressively” ordering the group to disperse and confiscating the stationery items bought for poster-making, citing a lack of prior approval for "such activities".

“Attempts by some students and faculty members to engage in a rational discussion about the nature of the event were met with outright refusal and arrogant dismissal. The CSO, shutting off any reasonable conversation, ordered security guards, equipped with batons, to take positions and even threatened to organize a drill with additional guards in the same spot, intimidating the group with the possibility of violence,” it said.

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The IIT Bombay CSO did not provide any written orders justifying the order, the students claimed. They also said that one police officer even claimed the enforcement of section 144 by default while refusing to show any such order in writing.

Furthermore, the CSO instructed his staff to video record all attendees, demanding their ID cards and threatening consequences for non-compliance. “Despite attempts by faculty members and some students to explain the silent and peaceful nature of the event, the CSO continued his aggressive and rude behaviour, even singling out professors, heckling them as to why should they come for such events, and also demanding that they instruct 'their' students to leave,” the statement said.

Despite the resistance, the students continued a silent solidarity vigil in a circular formation and lit candles in remembrance of children of Palestine on Children’s Day. The event concluded at 6.30 PM.

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