TISS Suspends PhD Student for Alleged "Anti-National Activities"
TISS Suspends PhD Student for Alleged

Mumbai: The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai has suspended a PhD student for two years for allegedly being involved in activities that were "not in the interest of the nation".

The institute has barred Ramadas Prinisivanandan (30), who is pursuing his doctorate in Development Studies, from entering its campuses in Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad, and Guwahati, as reported. A notice dated March 7 was sent to Prinisivanandan and cited his role in the screening of a documentary, 'Ram ke Naam' on January 26. The notice called it a "mark of dishonor and protest" against the Ram Mandir idol consecration in Ayodhya.

The notice said the institute's name was "misused" when the student participated in a protest in Delhi under the banner PSF-TISS. PSF stands for Progressive Student Forum, a Left-leaning organization. The protest wrongfully created an impression that the PSF had some association with the TISS and that its views were endorsed by the institute, the notice said. Prinisivanandan has also been accused of screening a banned BBC documentary on the TISS campus in January last year and inviting "controversial guest speakers" while organizing the Bhagat Singh Memorial Lecture.

"Your activities are not in the interest of the nation. Being a public institution, TISS cannot permit or tolerate its students indulging in such activities which are anti-national and bring a bad name to the nation. Hence, all such activities fall under the category of serious criminal offenses," the March 7 notice read.

These issues are "very serious and it is discernible that you are intentionally and deliberately indulging in such unlawful activities in the name of freedom of speech and expression", it said. A subsequent communication dated April 18 said the TISS's disciplinary committee had recommended his suspension for two years and that he would be banned from entering all campuses of the institute.

Prinisivanandan, who belongs to Kerala, told media that he would appeal against the suspension before the institute's internal authority. In a statement issued late Saturday, the TISS alleged that Prinisivanandan failed to comply with the institute's repeated verbal and written advisories to prioritize academic commitments.

"He continued to overstay unlawfully in his allotted hostel at the TISS, Mumbai campus, ignoring multiple reminders from the administration," it claimed. His "unlawful overstay" deprived other deserving PhD scholars of hostel accommodation, the statement claimed.

The institute asserted that the BBC documentary allegedly screened by Prinisivanandan was banned by the government as it was a "propaganda movie of the Western media". It also said it did not receive permission for the screening of another documentary, 'Ram ke Naam', during the 'Pran Pratishthan Diwas' in January as it was "deemed propaganda" by the government.

Meanwhile, the PSF with which Prinisivanandan is associated clarified that the protest in Delhi referred to by the TISS was related to "anti-student policies in the form of the National Education Policy". It stated that the Bhagat Singh Memorial Lecture has had the distinction of inviting well-known academics, scholars, and human rights activists, including two Ramon Magsaysay awardees.

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