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'Assault on civic, academic freedom, right to dissent': TISS PhD student's suspension

By Our Representative 

The Mumbai-based civil rights group All India Secular Forum (AISF) has said that the suspension of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) PhD student Ramadas Prini Sivanandan (30) for two years for allegedly indulging in activities which were "not in the interest of the nation" is meant to send out the message that students and educational institutes will be targeted if they don’t align with the agenda and ideology of the ruling regime. 
TISS in a notice served to Ramadas has cited that his role in screening the documentary 'Ram Ke Naam' on January 26 as a "mark of dishonour and protest" against the Ram Mandir idol consecration in Ayodhya. 
Another incident cited in the notice was Ramadas’ participation in the protest against unfair government policies in Delhi under the banner of the Progressive Students' Forum (PSF)-TISS. TISS alleges the institute's name was "misused", which wrongfully created an impression that the PSF had some association with the TISS and its views were endorsed by the institute.
AISF said, the allegations are absurd given that Ramadas participated in the protest in Delhi in his personal capacity and he is a leader of PSF. To protest peacefully is a democratic right. The 'Ram ke Naam' documentary is an award winning film which has been screened widely on many campuses including TISS campuses and on national television. 
AISF noted, the Censor Board has given its approval to the film for public screening. Ramadas' suspension represents a continued pattern of targeting students and stifling democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and academic liberties on campuses. Dissenting voices critical of government policies are systematically muzzled.
Stating that TISS has termed Ramadas’ participation in protests critical against government policies and films that are critical of the far right agenda of the government as “anti-national activities”, AISF, in a signed statement by Irfan Engineer and Neha Dabhade, underlined, "Such actions are an assault on the civic freedoms."
"AISF demands the immediate revocation of the suspension of Ramadas from TISS. We stand in solidarity with Ramadas, as well as other progressive students at TISS, in their fight against this unjust action", it added.

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