There are debates about students being mistreated in the food mess of IIT Bombay over vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. Pictures and screenshots are in circulation where some of the students are boasting about the fact that they had meat in the area and the benches are reserved for vegetarian students only.
As per the reports, on October 1, the mess councils, along with the wardens and associate wardens of three hostels at IIT-Bombay, levied a fine of Rs 10,000 on an unidentified student for causing disruption and violating mess regulations. This sum will be deducted from his Semester Mess Advance (SMA).
This action was taken three days subsequent to the mentioned student, accompanied by two or three others, purposefully consuming non-vegetarian food in a designated vegetarian area of the mess on September 28, 2023.
Thereafter, the mess councils of Hostel 12, 13 and 14 of IIT-Bombay held an online meeting with the Wardens and Associate Wardens of the three hostels and decided to penalise the student.
“The mess council reviewed the evidence available and determined that a resident of Hostel 12 deliberately instigated the incident during dinner on 28/09/23. 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, as evidenced in shared email communication,” it said.
“At least two other individuals were involved, whose identities are yet to be ascertained. It was unanimously agreed that (his) behaviour was contrary to the inclusive and peaceful atmosphere at Hostel 12-13-14 mess. The mess council resolved to impose a fine of Rs. 10,000.00/-(Rupees Ten thousand only) on him,” read the note about the meeting.
In emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace, it also stated, “The mess council decided to seek assistance from student representatives of Hostel 12-13-14 councils in identifying the other two individuals implicated in the incident. Once their identities are confirmed, suitable disciplinary measures will be taken against them as well.”
It’s important to note that out of 129 tables in the dining area, only 6 were designated for vegetarian students, while the rest were open to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian students. This decision was made not by the IIT-Bombay administration, but by the students’ councils of Hostel 12, 13, and 14, in conjunction with elected representatives.
Even though RTIs and mails for hostel GSec shows that there is no institute policy for food segregation, some individuals have taken it upon themselves to designate certain mess areas as “Vegetarians Only” and forcing other students to leave that area.#casteism #Discrimination pic.twitter.com/uFlB4FnHqi
— APPSC IIT Bombay (@AppscIITb) July 29, 2023
In an official communication dated Thursday, October 5, it was affirmed, “…Unlike certain other institutions, IIT-Bombay does not maintain a separate vegetarian mess and has no intention of establishing one in the future.”
“There were reports of some students deliberately spilling non-veg food to cause discomfort to fellow students. Such provocative and insensitive actions are not acceptable,” the college administration noted.
With the backing of the leftist student collective ‘Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC),’ an unidentified individual consumed non-vegetarian food in the section designated for vegetarian students on September 28, 2023.
This incident occurred a day after the introduction of new mess regulations, which allocated 6 out of 129 tables in the dining area specifically for vegetarian students. These rules were communicated to the students by the mess councils of Hostels 12, 13, and 14.
In an attempt to ‘protest’ this decision, the unnamed individual pledged to consume non-vegetarian food in the ‘reserved vegetarian area’ to cause disruption. Despite being advised against such actions by the Dean of IIT-Bombay, the individual proceeded with their plans, thereby violating the mess guidelines.
A fine of Rs 10,000 was levied, which was subtracted from his Semester Mess Advance (SMA). Typically, each student at IIT-Bombay pays an advance of approximately Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 for the mess fee. The mess council is currently enlisting the assistance of fellow students to identify those responsible.
Only six out of 129 tables earmarked for vegetarians in a hostel mess of IIT Bombay triggered the recent ‘protest’ against ‘Brahminism’.
I just talked to a student who sits at these tables. He is from a backward caste from UP pursuing research in Science.
He said the ‘protest’… pic.twitter.com/zubS4VYdx5
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) October 5, 2023
In July of this year, a few students displayed a poster in the canteen of Hostel 12, stating, “Vegetarian only are allowed to sit here.” While IIT-Bombay doesn’t have an official food segregation policy, students often adopt various seating arrangements based on their dietary preferences.
While speaking about the matter, the warden of the hostel said that although there was a Jain food counter, there was no designated place for such students to consume Jain food.
During that period, the leftist student collective ‘Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC)’ characterized the poster as an expression of caste discrimination. They further asserted that establishing a dedicated Jain seating area was deemed unacceptable, and restricting non-vegetarian food there was seen as a deviation from the principles of ‘tolerance’ and ‘mutual respect.’