IIT-Madras, however, denied that it discriminates against students based on what they eat, stating that the posters were put up by the caterers.

Separate entrance washbasins for veg and non-veg in IIT-M mess student group fumes
news Controversy Friday, December 14, 2018 - 17:32

The Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), a student group of the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) has accused the administration of caste discrimination in a student mess on campus. In a Facebook post put on the group's page on Thursday, students allege that one of the eating facilities in the college have separate entrances, wash basins and utensils for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Pictures posted with the Facebook post show notices stuck on walls of the mess that lead students to vegetarian food without garlic and onion, regular vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food. One poster even points to the hand wash area meant exclusively for vegetarian students. The post titled 'Untouchability continues at IIT Madras' reads, "Upper caste households in India would usually have two entrances - one for the upper castes and the other one in the back for the ‘impure’ lower castes. A mess in IIT Madras is now having the same system. This mess has two separate entrances for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Not just that - separate wash basins and separate utensils as well. What started as a demand for ‘pure’ vegetarian mess has become full-fledged untouchability. IIT Madras is trying to become a world-class institute, but the culture inside is still regressive in many aspects!"

A student who spoke to TNM on the condition of anonymity stated that these posters have come up only recently and were noticed on Wednesday by students. They are now planning to take up the matter with the administration and demand that the signs be pulled down.

"This is categorising students based on food and draws its roots from caste discrimination," says the student. "Why do they need to have separate routes and wash basins for students eating different kinds of food?" he asks.

When TNM contacted officials at IIT, they acknowledged that these posters were present and put up by the caterers. They also denied that the institute discriminates against students based on what they eat.

"One of the student eating facilities which serves both vegetarian food and non vegetarian food is being renovated, so this mess is accommodating more students now.  The signs were put up by caterers hired by the institute for clarity on where what nature of food will be available. As for the allegation of discrimination, the institute completely denies it. No student will be discriminated based on what they eat," says an IIT official.

According to reports, the Himalaya mess is 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.  



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