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Shobha Yatra at IIT-B, No Protest at TISS: Students Split Over Ram Mandir Events

Students at FTII labelled the move "a direct assault on the secular fabric that forms the bedrock of our nation."

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The inauguration of a ‘gaushala’ or a cow shed, ‘Ramdhun’, and a ‘Shobha Yatra’ -- a number of events had been announced at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in the run-up to the consecration of the Ram Mandir in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai has reportedly warned its students not to take part in any protests on campus against the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on 22 January, failing which necessary action will be taken against them by law-enforcement agencies.  

The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), a student body at IIT Bombay, on 19 January shared a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), alleging that the college administration “has started crawling in front of Hindutva political forces, giving up on the principle of Secularism in the Indian Constitution.” 

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The student body shared alleged screenshots of emails sent to them by the organisers of the cultural events.  

“It is with great pleasure that we announce the completion of a new and improved gaushala in the picturesque lakeside area behind the Devi Padmavati Temple...The inauguration ceremony of the new gaushala is scheduled for January 22, 2024 (Monday) at 12:29 PM,” the email reads. 

The inauguration will be attended by the IIT Bombay Director Subhasis Chaudhury and Ashwini Bhide, Addl Municipal Commissioner of BMC.  

Meanwhile, another cultural programme called ‘Ramdhun’ based on Geet Ramayan was scheduled for 20 January at the elite institute’s IDC Auditorium.  

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Ramdhun and Shobha Yatra Events

The purported screenshot shared by APPSC shows an email from the institute’s PRO inviting students "on behalf of the organisers" to attend the event: 

“The program, Ramdhun, will present a selection of songs from Geet Ramayan together with some Ram bhajans. The performers are from the IITB community, including the spouses and children of staff and faculty members as well as some students.” 

Another such screenshot shared by APPSC shows an invitation to students to attend the Shri Ram Shobha Yatra – a procession which will feature “children dressed as characters from Ramayan and will be accompanied by traditional instruments.” 

The purported ‘yatra’ was scheduled to take place a day before the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony in Ayodhya and pass through hostels 12,13 and 14 of IIT Bombay before culminating at the Devi Padmavati temple on Sunday.   

The student body condemned the series of events, labelling them as a "surrender of this institute in front of the right-wing political forces.”  

It even reiterated the recently-issued circular by IIT Bombay, where it had declared to remain "apolitical in all its endeavours." 

Students at FTII labelled the move "a direct assault on the secular fabric that forms the bedrock of our nation."

Guidelines, as shared by APPSC

(Image: X/APPSCIITB)

The institute's Public Relations Office (PRO) told The Quint that the cultural events -- the Shobha Yatra and Ramdhun -- were "not official IIT-B events" and were organised by a group of campus residents. The PRO also said:

"The gaushala was in bad shape and we repaired and upgraded it recently. Its inauguration was long due and is not connected to the other events."

Meanwhile, a group of students, shared videos of the event taking place. An independent student group, called IIT B For Bharat posted on X:

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'No Protests Allowed' In TISS, Mumbai; FTII Issues Statement

Separately, a notice dated 18 January issued by TISS “strictly warned students” not to participate in any activities or demonstrations on campus against the Ram temple consecration ceremony. According to a report by news agency, PTI, while the administration said that some students were planning a protest, the student union of TISS denied any protest being organised by an independent or recognised student body. 

"While there was already a notice dated 18th January 2024, that restricts all activities, gatherings, and screenings in the campuses till the new guidelines, why was another notification specifically mentioning the event of Ram Janmabhoomi Pran Pratisthan on 22nd January, 2024 circulated? This clearly pushes a certain political agenda onto the students."
Statement, Student Union, TISS, Mumbai

The student union demanded that the administration withdraws the notice dated 18th January and specify the dates when the new guidelines will be in place.

Meanwhile the Student Association of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune issued a statement of "vehement condemnation" for the Central government's decision to declare a half-day on 22 January for the consecration of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

In a strongly-worded statement, the FTIISA labelled the move "a direct assault on the secular fabric that forms the bedrock of our nation." It said:

"This audacious move not only casts a shadow of doubt upon the cherished notion of secularism embedded in our Constitution but also callously overlooks the bloodshed that stained the very land during the infamous demolition of the Babri Masjid."
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TIFR, IISER Closed For Half Day; 600 Students Attend 'Pran Pratishtha' Screening at IISc Bangalore

Even as PM Modi presided over the 'Pran Pratishtha' rituals at the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, many educational institutions across India – including Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai; Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Mohali; and IISER Thiruvananthapuram – are observing a half-day holiday.

A student at IISc Bangalore, requesting anonymity, told The Quint that a screening of the 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony was organised by a section of students in the closed auditorium of the campus, which was attended by at least 600 students. It was followed by a puja (prayers) at a local temple, he said.

Students at FTII labelled the move "a direct assault on the secular fabric that forms the bedrock of our nation."

A closed-audi screening of the 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony being held at IISc Bangalore.

(Image: Accessed by The Quint)

He asserted that proper permission of the event was sought in advance and outsiders were not invited for this.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi too had declared a half-day holiday on 22 January, only to retract its decision. 

"As a continuation of the circular dated January 20 from this office, the outpatient department will remain open to attend to patients with appointments, aiming to prevent any inconvenience and facilitate patient care," The Times of India quoted the new office memorandum. 

In view of the the grand event in Ayodhya, that is being attended by nearly 8,000 VIP guests, the Uttar Pradesh Police force has beefed up security in Ayodhya. 

The Ayodhya Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid issue is one of the most controversial land disputes in India, which was settled in 2019 with the Supreme Court delivering a verdict paving the way for the construction of the temple, built on the site of the Masjid.   

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Topics:  IIT Bombay   Ram Mandir   Ayodhya 

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