A group of students of Bhopal’s Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism staged a protest against two visiting professors – Dilip Mandal and Mukesh Kumar – alleging they created a “caste divide among students” through their social media posts.
On Wednesday, 18 December, the University expelled 23 students on the charges of discipline and vandalism. The students are further accused of letting miscreants participate in their protest.
Earlier, the students had alleged that Mandal, a senior journalist, asked the surname of students and “misbehaves with upper caste students”.
When asked to cite an example, one of the protesters, Prakhar Dwivedi, said, “Once we were asked to write PTCs for a journalism class. Because I had mentioned my surname, he knew I was from a general category and hence asked me to rewrite the PTC five times. Meanwhile, he asked another student from the SC/ST community to write the PTC twice.”
Prakhar, a second-year student in the University, added, “The vilification campaign against Brahmins that Mandal and Kumar run on social media creates ill feelings among students and also a distrust with the teachers.”
Responding to the news of expulsion, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh tweeted, “Students at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National Journalism University have been expelled for raising legitimate demands. This is an attempt to suppress the voices of students and crush democracy. We will not allow this conspiracy to expel students and destroy their future. I demand that all the legitimate demands of the students of the University be accepted and their expulsion should be withdrawn immediately.”
On Friday, 13 December, the students had written a formal complaint to the University Vice-Chancellor asking him to expel the two professors. They were also sitting on a protest outside the VC’s office when the police came and removed them from spot. Prakhar said the police had picked up 10 people from the protest who were released on Saturday, 14 December.
Videos from the protest show the students sitting in a group and singing bhajans. There were also videos where the police can be seen dragging some of the students down the staircase to disrupt their protest. “The VC should not have called the police to stop a student protest. We now demand the VC also resigns.”
Some students were injured in the scuffle and had to be hospitalised.
Alleging that the students were from right-wing groups, Dilip Mandal told The Quint, “This is an ideological battle. I will fight it out with the RSS and the ABVP.”
Earlier, he had put out tweets calling for dialogue with the students who have taken offence at his tweets.
He wrote, “It is important to respect all kinds of opinions, even if you think they are illogical or hurt your sentiments.”
He added, “I am not scared of any opinion. Nobody should be scared of any opinion.”
Mandal had run campaigns on Twitter with hashtags like “#CancelAllBlueTicksinIndia, #CasteistMedia, #CasteistTwitter etc. Most of these hashtags had trended on top in India and sometimes across the world.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor told The Hindu, “The university stands for freedom of expression and academics. It functions on the principles of the Constitution and no other ideology. There will be no tolerance against violence.”
However, University registrar, Deependra Baghel told ANI, “I've accepted their demand that they'll also be a part of the committee. Dilip Mandal and Mukesh Kumar won't enter the University until probe is completed. But they're demanding that the VC seek apology over his statement, a statement which they twisted.”
The students, however, said it was an independent protest and they were doing a peaceful protest. Prakhar said the protest has been called off for now but their demands still stand.