IIMC students allege surveillance after a student is suspended for backing sacked professor

Rohin Verma was suspended on Wednesday for writing an opinion piece on the suspension of a professor without any prior notice

The credibility of India’s premier J-school is currently making the headlines for all wrong reasons. Rohin Verma, a student of Hindi Journalism has been suspended for allegedly violating the norms of social media of the institute. He has been found guilty of uttering wild allegations on sub-judice matters on various online news outlets, in a bid to provoke the students and cause unrest in the campus. The news comes in days after Professor Narendra Singh Rao was terminated for questioning the ill functioning and nature of the institute, which is the major cause of the entire tension in the campus.

Rohin’s Facebook live video this Friday raised severe question on the institute’s credibility, acclaimed as the best training centre of the fourth pillar of democracy.

Rohin’s opinion piece published on a major online news portal questioned the abrupt termination of Prof. Narendra Singh Rao without any prior notice. He also penned down words from the professor’s open letter to the Director General KG Suresh stating that “only RSS leaning journalists were being invited to the campus for special lectures…. but no journalists with opposing views.”

However, Director General K.G. Suresh has a different take on the whole incident. He said that Rohin has not been following the norms of covering sub-judice matters and making “unsubstantiated, wild and sweeping allegations”.

“He made sweeping comments like ‘this is not the first time arbitrary decisions have been taken by IIMC’. As if he is trying to adjudicate the matter and he has come to certain conclusions,” Mr Suresh added.

However, Rohin rubbishes the claim. He said that his e-mail seeking clarification on the “sweeping comments” haven’t received due response from Director General, Additional Director General or any of the faculty.

The date of hearing by the disciplinary committee has also not been cleared by the administration yet.

The notice issued to Rohin debars him from entering the campus, library or hostels unless called by the committee for the hearing. It should also be noted that the institute has given Rohin’s picture to the college guards so as to restrict his entry to the campus.

Rohin’s batchmates informed that ever since they reported about the alleged abrupt termination, they have been subjected to far-fetched surveillance. They added that the disciplinary committee has details of their Whatsapp chats, Facebook posts, likes and comments.

“I find this unethical and a threat to our right to privacy. The people in the administration are not on the whatsapp group (where he wrote), they shouldn’t have access to that.” Says Abik Deb, a student of radio and TV journalism. The students also said that letters were sent to their parents, causing severe stress to them.

Rohin has received immense support on social media. However, he is unwilling to be in the limelight. “I don’t want to be a hero. I want my life back and be with my friends. I want to go to the library and read and write and enjoy college,” he said.

Despite all the allegations and counter-allegations, the university’s behaviour has raised several questions regarding its way of functioning. Isn’t IIMC aware of the definition of freedom of speech? The assimilation of journalistic technicality and freedom of speech seems to be holding a perplexed dynamism here. Even if Rohin is wrong, why isn’t he being given a date and information along with a proper clarification of the notice issued to him? With placementa round the corner and pending assignments and projects, Rohin’s entire future is at stake currently.