This is another case of alleged suppression of voice, dissent and right to free speech and expression. This time it is in IIMC-Indian Institute of Mass Communication. A student by name Rohin Kumar was suspended for writing a piece of article against his own institution, while the subject is still ‘sub-judice.
How did the events unfold?
Narendra Singh Rao was associated with this institute for the last 6 years. He was sacked without quoting any genuine reasons. The administration safe explanation is simple, “Clause 1 of Rao’s contractual agreement stated that his contract agreement can be terminated anytime without assigning any reason”. Rao’s association with IIMC ended on November 22, when his term was terminated abruptly. After his termination, Rao took to social media to pen down what has happened. Rao has been very vocal about upliftment of vulnerable classes. He argues he was always pro-democratic and secular. He complains about mishandling and ill treatment given to a select few sections within the campus. He mentions instances where 25 Safai karmacharis were illegally sacked, harassment of a dalit rape survivor, harassment of a muslim woman, who was later forced to contemplate suicide by the reactionary and upper class forces, etc.
What did Rohin do?
Rohin was suspended for raising him voice against abrupt termination of Narendra Singh Rao. Rohin also questioned the manner in which Rao was suspended without proper reason attached. Rohin, has written an article in News Laundy, regarding the same. This drew ire from his institute administration & authorities. They eventually suspended him until some action against his suspension is decided by the disciplinary committee. Rohin says, today, everyone has his photograph, the watchman, security guards, etc. to watch out for him and not to allow him in. The article that Rohin cites as ‘fairly objective’ contains images and screenshots of dialogues, both official and social. Rohin says his sole purpose of writing that piece of article was to educate the masses. He says that the issue was not a confidential one as a slew of media houses already published stories about the same incident. “If the matter was sub-juice, why was action not taken against Financial express, Catch News and Caravan, which carried out the story? Am I being victimised or selectively being targeted?” questions Rohin.
What do the authorities have to say?
KG Suresh, the director general of IIMC says, “Rohin was suspended because he reported on an issue that was sub-judice while inciting other students to join him on the cause. He reached out to almost every media house out there, without even considering talking to me, to report about an administrative decision that had nothing to do with him. Plus, his article was anything but objective.”
Is this the first time something like this happened?
NO. It’s not the first time this happened. Earlier, there are instances where few students were suspended because they raised their voice in favour of a suspended lecturer on social media. They were asked to refrain from making any comments which lacked objectivity. “We were monitored, our social media posts were keenly analysed” says a student in anguish over their suspension. We were never directly under pressure, but certain pressure tactics were played against us which we definitely felt.
Narendra Singh Rao, already suspended, learnt about Rohin’s suspension, has termed this act as terribly unfortunate. An institute of such high reputation should try to uphold the values of free speech and expression. Stifling dissenting voices within the campus doesn’t reflect institutional values.