Chennai: Castigating Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani for "authoritarian" interference that allegedly led to derecognition of a students' body at IIT Madras, DMK leader M Karunanidhi today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "direct intervention" for revocation of the order and to restore "peace" on the campus.
The former Tamil Nadu chief minister, however, absolved Modi of any personal culpability in the episode.
Without naming Irani, he said that "unilateral" and "authoritarian" interference by Modi's ministers on such issues will impact both the youth of the country and the nation's peace.
"Though it seems that Prime Minister Modi doesn't place importance on needless issues like banning a democratic group, his ministers interfering unilaterally and in an authoritarian manner in such issues will impede youth's thought process and affect the nation's peace," he said.
In a statement here, he called for PM's "direct intervention" to ensure that the derecognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) by IIT Madras authorities was revoked immediately to ensure that peace and a healthy atmosphere prevailed at the institute.
"Because of this incident, the otherwise peacefully functioning institute has turned into a war zone," he said. Karunanidhi also asked if the AIADMK government, "by not making any explicit statement against the ban and remaining silent," was supporting the Centre on this issue.
IIT-M is in the eye of a row over derecognition on Friday of the students group, many of whose members are Dalits, following a complaint that it was critical of Prime Minister Modi.
The move has led to a string of protests by political parties including Congress and AAP. The premier technical institute has maintained that APSC had "violated" defined guidelines of IIT-Madras, resulting in its temporary derecognition.
"As per the guidelines in force, student bodies cannot use the name of IIT Madras or its official entities in any capacity to publicise their activities or garner support without official permission," Prof Ramamurthy, Acting Director, had said, adding "this group has violated the guidelines while conducting their meeting." A separate statement by the institute said that while IIT-M does not "curtail" students' freedom of expression, "it is expected that student groups adhere to these guidelines while conducting their activities."
The HRD ministry had forwarded a complaint by some students about APSC to the institute wherein it accused the group of creating "hatred" against Modi and instigating protests against Centre's policies. Opposition parties have alleged that HRD ministry's letter was behind the clampdown on the group.
Karunanidhi said members of the study circle had claimed they were working on progressive issues and those which affected the society.
He also recalled that his party founder, late C N Annadurai, had as early as in 1947 advocated participation of students cutting across political lines to work for propagating rationalism.