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IIT-Madras 'Punishes' Students Group' Accused of Protests against Modi Government

Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has taken action against a students' study group over an anonymous complaint to the Central government that it was trying to "spread hatred" towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi by distributing provocative pamphlets and posters on the campus. The Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle has been told that it can't use the auditorium, the IIT email and the institute notice board. In a letter to the IIT-Madras director on May 15, the Union Human Resource Development Ministry had cited an "anonymous letter alleging serious complaints received from students." The "evidence" was enclosed - a pamphlet of the study circle highlighting a speech by academician R Vivekananda Gopal criticising the Modi government. 

The students' group has denied allegations that it was inciting protests and says it was never given a chance to respond. "We have not violated the Constitution. The Constitution allows us to criticize the government and its policies. But the IIT administration is trying to stifle democratic forces," said Abhinav, a member of the study circle. The anonymous letter to the government, signed "Students, IIT Madras" alleged that the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle is "creating hatred among students in the name of caste" and also trying to "create hatred against the honourable prime minister and Hindus." After receiving the ministry letter, the Dean, M Srinivasan, reportedly wrote a stern letter to the study circle accusing it of "misuse of privileges." The action has generated a fiery debate on social media and was among the top trends of the day on Twitter. "Politics need young ppl today. Please dont ban future of india. - IIT Madras," said one tweet. A Facebook user commented: "This is becoming more and more frequent news nowadays... Criticism is an essential part of democracy."

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