Watch Out!
Official News
Body of IITR
About Guide

Big Story

Azad Bhawan Protest

August 18, 2017
- Uday Shinghal, Aditya Rathi

On the evening of August 14th, a laptop was stolen from the room number F-168 of Azad Bhawan. Apparently, the thief didn’t break any locks, but was recorded in the CCTV footage whilst trying to open various locks in the first wing of the Azad Bhawan, until he finally struck gold. Mr. Ajay, the residential warden of the Azad Bhawan, was first notified by the residents of two rooms in the hostel, about an attempt of opening of a lock - citing an unknown key, that was found stuck in the lock - and, an hour later, around 6:30 in the evening, the theft of a laptop was reported to the residential warden.

In immediate response to what happened and on further notifying the Chief Warden of Azad Bhawan, the CCTV footage of the Bhawan and various other cameras were hustled through till early in the morning, and a person was seen messing with the locks. That was all the CCTV footage could reveal, with the clarity of the recording not being good enough to recognise who the said culprit exactly was.

Supposedly, the same person, on the very next day, stole 2 more laptops from Azad Bhawan, from two rooms in the first wing. An eagle-eyed resident of Azad Bhawan identified the culprit, who was on a bike, and tried to stop him by following him on his own bike. On being unable to successfully catch the accused, he, along with some more people who had joined him in the chase, started shouting at the security at the main gates to stop him, but the security guards didn’t (or couldn’t) stop the bike, because the fugitive had a staff sticker on his bike.

pic2

The very disappointed group of chasers soon turned into a group of irate protesters, and, very soon, no less than 60 people from Azad Bhawan were protesting in front of the Main Gate. Until then, the General Secretary, PG Academics was updated, who further notified the remaining members of the SAC - namely the GS Cultural Affairs, the GS Alumni Affairs, and the GS Hostel Affairs - who reached the spot as soon as they were informed. Also, some people from the horde even called the media which was present near the campus on account of the Independence Day celebrations. The Dean of Students Welfare, Prof. Anand Joshi, soon joined in to pacify the mob, which began to demand the resignation of the residential warden of Azad Bhawan.

pic3

The unsatisfied crowd, despite having a document with a stamp of the police, protested in front of the Director’s Residence, later in the night, demanding his appearance and his address on the issue. Very soon, the Dean of Students Welfare, ADOSW Bhawan, ADOSW Student Activities, Dean of Academics, the Security Head, and various other professors gathered there to monitor the crowd.

The students were stuck on their demand of meeting the Director. After a prolonged series of arguments between the crowd, the professors, and the SAC representatives, at around midnight, Prof. Anand Joshi, the GS PG Academics, and a Ph.D. scholar (Mr. Sumit Mishra) went to meet the Director to convey the demands of the students. The application addressed to the Director by the students listed the following demands:

  • Compensation for the lost laptop.
  • The resignation of the residential warden.
  • A revamp of the security system.
  • Follow-up on the 6-month old complaints of theft.

After a short meeting with the director, the representatives and the Dean came out of the residence. Director’s response to the incident, as stated by one of the representatives, was this:

By calling the media, you guys have tried to tarnish the reputation of the Institute. This indeed is really disappointing. By these actions, we might not remain among the top 10 institutes of the country, and we have already been pushed back to seventh! The Student Aid Fund has been created for such incidents and the affected Ph.D. scholars shall get compensated. Additionally, a meeting shall be called upon to discuss the demands put forward by the student community and immediate action, after rigorous investigation, shall take place.

This incident has posed some serious questions, and, among them, the question of when the students will be compensated is probably not the major one.

First, despite similar incidents of theft from the hostel rooms, why haven’t any strict measures been taken up yet? Why are the loopholes so gaping that the CCTV at the main gates can’t even read the number on the number plate of a static vehicle which was rather close to the camera?

Second, the students protesting were asking GS Hostel Affairs to respond to the occasion. Considering the fact that there are 3 hostels in the campus which are completely inhabited by PG Students, shouldn’t we have a separate GS from the PG community for hostel affairs? Also, there are various other errands that ultimately fall under the GS Hostel Affairs, but, instead, should be under one “GS Administration” - which doesn’t exist. If the ever increasing workload could be channelized, more effective output can be expected.

Also, is protesting the best way of asking what is required? By protests and demonstrations, students portray as though they are gentlemen of leisure, but, instead, waste the time and energy rather unconstructively.

All things considered, maybe the students were right by doing a public demonstration at the Main Gates, earlier in the day, and, later, demanding a public appearance of the Director, at midnight, in front of his residence.

Or, maybe, Prof. Misra was right in resonating the thoughts of the Director, by saying, “I’m ashamed of you, of all of you. The things you are doing, are done by the students of a random private institution. You are damaging the reputation of this prestigious institution.”