On September 28, a group of students protested against the decision by eating non-vegetarian food at a table earmarked for those not eating meat.
The Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on a student protesting against tables being reserved for those eating ‘vegetarian food’, reported The Hindu.
Earlier in July, a controversy broke out in the institute over some areas in a mess being unofficially earmarked for vegetarians.
The general secretary of the hostel mess had then said in an email that no area could be reserved for anyone, or could seek to exclude anyone. However, in an email on September 27, the mess council informed the students that it had reserved the six tables to create a “more inclusive environment” for students.
Since the notice, several student organisations on the campus have raised the issue of food discrimination and demanded intervention from the administration.
On Tuesday, the mess council of hostels 12, 13 and 14 at IIT-Bombay decided to impose a fine of Rs 10,000 on a student for ‘unruly behaviour’ and for ‘flouting the mess norms. The student, along with two others, ate nonvegetarian food in the designated space for vegetarian food, to protest against the segregation of eating places in the mess.
While one student from Hostel 12 has been fined, disciplinary action will also be initiated against two others, once they are identified, the mess council said.
On October 2, the students’ collective Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle posted the minutes of a meeting of the mess council on social media.
Referring to the protests by the students, the institution said “This act was a premeditated attempt to disrupt the peace and harmony within the mess, in defiance of the advice provided by the associate dean SA [Students’ Affairs].”
Meanwhile, the Student collective’ Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle’ said that this action was “similar to a Khap Panchayat acting to uphold untouchability in modern times.