Five NIT Calicut students fined over Rs 33 lakh for protesting on campus

The show cause notice issued by the registrar of the National Institute of Technology Calicut said they should respond as to why a penalty of Rs 6.61 lakh per student should not be imposed on them.
Students protesting at the NIT-Calicut campus.
Students protesting at the NIT-Calicut campus.
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Five engineering students from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut have been slapped with show cause notice threatening a hefty fine of over Rs 33 lakh by the institution. The penalty was imposed as a punishment for their protest on March 22, 2024. The institute has alleged that the protestors blocked teachers and other staff from entering the campus for a day.

The students received the show cause notice on Thursday morning, June 13. The notice, issued by the institution's registrar, Rajnikant GK, stated that the fine was imposed "to claim the proportionate loss of damages the institute has suffered due to the loss of a working day on 22nd March 2024 because of the unauthorized strike and acts of restraining the employees from entering into the Institute."

The students, Vyshakh Premkumar, Kailash Nath, Irshad Ibrahim, Adarsh J, and Ben Thomas, come from various engineering departments at the institute. Speaking to TNM, Vyshakh said the students protested on March 22 against the various undemocratic steps taken by the institution.

According to Vysakh, the NIT implemented a series of anti-student measures, including a night curfew, restricted library access, enforced longer routes to the library, reduced library hours, and the cancellation of their cultural fest. He linked these measures to retaliation from the institution following an earlier protest in January against the Ayodhya Ram Temple. During that protest, Vyshakh had been suspended for a year for raising slogans and placards declaring "India is not Ram Rajya." Although his suspension was revoked the following month, he claims the administration's "revengeful attitude" persisted.

"Since then, the authorities have taken dictatorial decisions on the campus. They imposed a night curfew, made the library inaccessible by closing the nearest gate, and forced us to take a longer route through an area where construction was underway, which was particularly difficult for students with special needs," Vyshakh said, adding that these actions were aimed at making students suffer.

The show cause notice said they should respond as to why disciplinary proceedings including a penalty of Rs 6,61,155 per student, amounting to a total of Rs 33,05,775, should not be imposed on them.

It stated, "The entire campus was blocked, and the employees were restrained from entering the campus. The access denial went on for the whole day despite requests from various authorities, resulting in the loss of a working day for the institute." The notice further emphasized, "Your misconduct has caused irreparable loss of a productive working day to the Institute. In this background, considering the financial loss suffered by the Institute, it is informed that the Institute is entitled to recover the damages for the loss."

The students have been given a seven-day window to respond to the penalty notice. Under the new curfew, students must return to their hostels by midnight, and the campus canteen, which previously operated 24 hours, now closes at 11 PM.

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