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IIT-M row: DYFI members stage protest outside campus, detained

IIT madras

Chennai: Scores of volunteers belonging to the leftist DYFI were detained today after they tried to stage a road blockade outside IIT, Madras here to protest the derecognition of a students’ group for allegedly criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as some political parties expressed concern over ‘threats’ to freedom of expression.

The agitating members of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) raised slogans against the Modi-led Union government and HRD Minister Smriti Irani even as they were whisked away by the policemen.

They also had a heated exchange of words with the police and raised slogans against the management of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) and sought action against it for derecognising Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle recently.

A DYFI volunteer said the “agenda of RSS” will not be allowed in Tamil Nadu.

Security has been beefed up around IIT-M in anticipation of more protests, police said.

Meanwhile, DMK and MDMK expressed “shock” over the “intolerance” shown by the authorities of IIT-M, and expressed concern over “threats” to freedom of expression.

“This stand to curb freedom of expression taken by the institution and the Union government is most disheartening. This incident displays a clear unwarranted interference of the Union government in the running of an educational institution,” DMK Treasurer M K Stalin said in a statement.

Young minds should be allowed to engage in societal dialogue constructively and dissent should not be stifled, he said, adding, “Such regressive and repressive actions will lead to unrest and rebellion among youth.”

“I urge the Union government to respect the freedom of speech and expression of the citizens and be open to criticism and dissent,” he added.

MDMK leader Vaiko slammed Irani for saying she had nothing to do with the derecognition episode even as he condemned the institute’s management for “stifling” dissent.

“Irani should realise that none has the right to snatch away the basic right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” he said, while urging that the action against the study circle be withdrawn immediately.

IIT, Madras, had come under criticism on Friday for derecognising the said students’ body for allegedly violating code of conduct. The issue is scheduled to be taken up in the Board of Students meeting in August.

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