After posters marking separate entrances and washbasins for vegetarians and non-vegetarians at an eating facility in the IIT-Madras campus sparked allegations of caste discrimination, the college's Mess Monitoring Committee has intervened. Managed by students, the committee has removed the offending posters and promised to conduct an enquiry into the incident.
On Friday, the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), a student group of the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) put out a Facebook post alleging that one of the eating facilities in the college had separate entrances, wash basins and utensils for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The post titled 'Untouchability continues at IIT Madras' alleged that separate entrances, utensils and wash basins was similar to how upper caste households in India have different entrances for 'impure' lower castes. It accused the institute of propagating a regressive culture within the campus. When TNM contacted the IIT management however, they maintained that the posters were put up by caterers who were managing the kitchens and that they were not directly involved in the matter.
"It has been brought to attention that a certain poster detailing an area of wash basin to be earmarked for vegetarian students, was found in RRC mess, Himalaya. The caterer has been instructed to remove the poster immediately upon its discovery by the Mess Monitoring Committee (MMC).The same had been undertaken by the caterer in their own volition and was not a directive given by the Mess Monitoring Committee (MMC). In due course of time, action will be taken on the caterer after an enquiry on the incident," reads a statement issued by Nihal K, Hostel Affairs Secretary, IIT Madras."
â€œIt has also been noted that concerns have been raised regarding two entrances to the mess. The entrances have been provided that way so as to make the passage to each counter easier, and not to restrict passage from one to another, or differentiate students in any capacity. The posters have been removed from the facility as soon as the error was pointed out. Apologies for any inconveniences caused," the statement further says.
According to reports, the Himalaya mess is a three-storied building and has six halls that serve food. Currently, only four of them are functioning and there are reportedly two vegetarian and two non-vegetarian caterers.