By Varun Sridhar and Isha Bhallamudi
IIT Madras’s student body has been quite active in the recent past with respect to political events, dialogue and activities. Sadly, not all of this activity has been positive.
In response to the national ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets, IIT Madras students organized a beef eating fest on Sunday, 28th May, in Himalaya Lawns. This mirrors similar reactions in states such as Kerala, which hosted beef-eating activities as a response against the national ban. As expected, many students registered their opposition to the beef-eating fest. Students on both sides of the issue have been discussing various aspects of the debate on multiple fora.
Today, one of the participants of the beef-eating fest, a Ph.D student from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, was physically attacked by Manish Kumar Singh, one of the students who opposed the beef-eating fest. We are keeping the name and identity of the victim anonymous.
According to eyewitnesses, the victim and a friend were eating in the mess when Manish, accompanied by a few friends, were in the area. Manish, alone, approached them and questioned to confirm his participation and role in the beef-eating fest on campus. Following this, Manish brutally physically attacked him. It is worthwhile to note that this is not the first time that Manish has attacked students for offending him. Previously, he physically attacked students in a meeting of the Student Legislative Council and also threatened to do the same in a panel discussion on atrocities in Kashmir, both on campus. Furthermore, he threatened revenge on the organizers of the fest on Facebook a day before the event, so the act was quite clearly premeditated.
The victim is currently being treated at Sankara Nethralaya in Nungambakkam, having suffered injuries to his face and right eye. Manish reportedly has suffered a broken arm.
An incident such as this is not the first one on campus in the last year. It demands a serious reflection from students on their chosen means of engaging with people who hold different opinions and practices from them. It should also be noted that those who wish to safeguard the sanctity of a country as diverse as India cannot possibly do so if they are provoked to physical aggression at every opposing view.
Given the possibility of counter-protests by students against the beef ban, we urge all institute students to act wisely and maintain respectful dialogue and debate.
Updates: A line in paragraph four that is being misconstrued has been edited. In the first line of paragraph one, “sale of unproductive beef” has been corrected to “sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets”. Sooraj was a participant in the beef eating fest, and not an organizer, as previously incorrectly stated.
Note: We urge eyewitnesses to come forward and contact the authors to register a statement. Anonymity can be provided.