Controversy
The APSC at IIT Madras has alleged that Prof Ramesh, one of its founding members, was being linked to the arrest of Dalit scholar and academic, Anand Teltumbde.

The Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle(APSC), a student group at the centrally-funded Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, has alleged an attempt by the union government to foist the infamous Bhima Koregaon violence case on them. In a letter released by the student body on Sunday, the APSC has said that intelligence agencies of the government are investigating Professor Ramesh, one of its founding members, to link him with the arrest of academic Anand Teltumbde. Teltumbde was recently arrested in connection with the violence that broke out at the Bhima Koregaon celebrations last year.

The APSC has alleged that Professor Ramesh, who currently works as teaching staff on a contract basis at the Anna University, is being investigated and have intimidated the university.

Attempt to foist case

“Intelligence officers have threatened the administration of Anna University demanding for details about Ramesh. These activities are all part of the plan by the Central government, to bring the name of APSC, IIT Madras into the false UAPA case it has filed against Prof Anand Teltumbde regarding Bhima Koregaon incident. We all know how after Modi government came to power, IIT Madras administration derecognised APSC and how they had to withdraw after a huge outcry of opposition across the country,” reads the letter.

APSC, a student initiative to discuss social issues at the IIT in Chennai, was founded in 2014. In 2015, Prof MS Sivakumar, then Dean of Students at the institution banned the student group following an anonymous complaint sent to the Union Ministry of Human Resources and Development that alleged that the APSC was 'creating hatred against the honourable Prime Minister and Hindus'. The ban provoked a student movement across the country, with various universities starting their own branches of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle. The ban was revoked soon after.

‘The Teltumbde connection’

Civil rights activist and Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde was arrested on February 2 as part of the Maharashtra government's crackdown on activists, linking them to January 2018's Bhima Koregaon violence. A Pune court had cited evidence to show that Teltumbde had links with Maoists and the Elgar Parishad conclave. Elgar Parishad was the event which was held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon, a venue which is celebrated for the resilience displayed by Dalit soldiers in the British army who fought against caste Hindu Peshwas. The activists were arrested by the Pune police under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, beginning in June 2018.

The APSC has alleged that there is an attempt by the central government to link the reason for Teltumbde's arrest to the student body.

“In the case against Teltumbde, the Maharashtra government has accused Teltumbde of having funded and helped in founding APSC in IIT Madras. This is an outright lie. We suspect that the Modi government is building a narrative to further attack the study circles named after Ambedkar and Periyar across the country,” says the APSC letter.

‘Fascists are at our doorsteps’

Slamming the crackdown on activists and dissent across the country, the APSC also alleged that a woman student activist belonging to the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in Madras University was ‘threatened in the name of investigation.’ “The intelligence officers visited her native village and threatened her while she was staying in the village. This is a clear attempt to remove the progressive forces from campuses across the country and to convert these campuses into RSS training centres,” said the APSC.

The letter also urged people to raise their voice against the developments. “The Modi government, which received the dalits in the name of glorifying Ambedkar on one hand, attacks those who want to realise the dream Ambedkar had. We ask everyone of this country to condemn these illegal actions by the Modi government. This is not the time to remain silent or indifferent. The fascists are at our doorsteps. We ask everyone who believe in democracy to raise their dissenting voices in the loudest possible manner,” the APSC said.