IIT-Bombay fines 8 students up to Rs 1.2 lakh for derogatory Ramayana skit

Mumbai: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has fined eight students with up to Rs 1.2 lakh for derogatory deception of Ram and Sita during the institute’s annual performing arts festival. The students staged a play called Raahovan at the annual festival on March 31.

The Performing Arts Festival, or PAF, is an annual cultural event of IIT-Bombay. It was held in March this year, and the play was staged at the open-air theatre on the campus on March 31.

The students, including juniors and some are graduating soon, staged a play, loosely based on the Ramayana. But, a section of students alleged that the play was disrespectful to Hinduism and derogatory towards Ram and Sita.

Following the protest and complains, the institute has taken action based on recommendations of a disciplinary action committee and imposed the fine on the students.

Out of the eight student, the graduating students have been punished with a fine of Rs 1.2 lakh each and the junior students have been penalised to pay Rs 40,000 fine each. Moreover, the senior students will not get any recognition for any gymkhana awards and the juniors will be debarred from hostel facilities, as per the statement of a student.

A video went viral in the next few days, showing clippings of the play vis-a-vis the facts from the Ramayana, sparking a debate on artistic freedom and on hurting religious sentiments.

A social media handle claimed that the students had abused their academic freedom and that the institute should establish guidelines to ensure no religion is ridiculed under the guise of freedom of expression on the campus in future.

However, several students on campus claimed the harsh action was uncalled for. The play, in fact, a student said, was a feminist take on a tribal society and was well received by the audience and the judges.

While the institute authorities did not comment on the issue, another student said the institute should explain how the confidential document about the action taken has been leaked on social media.

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