'Is TISS on the same path as JNU and HCU?'

Aug 03, 2018, 07:07 IST | Pallavi Smart

Student leader Fahad Ahmad alleges the institute put his PhD registration on hold after he led the protest against withdrawal of aid to backward students

'Is TISS on the same path as JNU and HCU?'
Fahad Ahmad

Students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) who had protested withdrawal of financial aid for SC/ST students appear to be facing the consequences of taking a stand against establishment. Now, M.Phil student Fahad Ahmad, who spearheaded the protest, is claiming TISS is sabotaging his academic career, after it put his registration for the PhD programme on hold.

Speaking to mid-day, Ahmad said, "After I approached them several times regarding my PhD registration, they issued me a letter [about his registration being put on hold]. More than a month of the new academic year is over and I'm still waiting for the registration. As per the letter, my registration for the PhD programme will be subject to the report of an inquiry committee."

The letter
Ahmad is talking about a letter issued to him on July 25, which says that one of the guidelines for him to receive a fellowship funded by the public requires him to maintain discipline during his stay at the institute. It further mentions how Ahmad has failed to do so because he was 'involved in protest' from February to March during which he 'engaged in various disruptive illegal activities', like obstructing the staff and residents of TISS, and movement of vehicles in campus, blocking the admin office and 'gheraoing' key institute officials.

It then says how the institute plans on holding an appropriate inquiry from an independent committee to assess his response, as TISS found it 'unsatisfactory'. Further, it makes mention of the convocation ceremony on May 7, when Ahmad reportedly refused to accept his M.Phil degree from the chairman after going on stage, and says he is 'guilty of refusing' his degree.

Silencing voices?
Ahmad questions whether this is being done to silence students' voices. "They are clearly stopping the academic growth of a deserving student. I've fulfilled all the required academic norms to prove my eligibility for PhD registration. Here, we're forced to ask if TISS is taking the same path that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) or Hyderabad Central University (HCU) took to silence students' voices?" Now, Ahmad's registration is subject to the findings of the inquiry committee.

Jit Hazarika, the newly-elected president of TISS's students' union, said, "This is selective targeting of students who participated in the protest. While Fahad has been issued this letter, fellowships of other students have been stopped. We condemn this stand by the administration, and we will be taking up these issues with them."

'Action against the disrespect, not protest'
mid-day reached out to Prof. Asha Bano, TISS's dean of student affairs, but she remained unavailable for comment. However, an official from the institute explained, "This is a disciplinary action being taken against Fahad following his disrespectful behaviour on the day of the convocation. It does not pertain to the students' protest. An enquiry has been initiated in this regard and at the end of it, an appropriate decision will be taken regarding his PhD registration."

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