In a surprise development, six backward class research scholars of the Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University (MGIHU) in Wardha were expelled on alleged grounds of "violation of Model Code of Conduct and interference in the judicial process" for penning postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over recent communal incidents in the country.
The expulsions of these scholars for an indefinite period, ironically, took place in the the central university named after the Father of the Nation, in Wardha, which is considered his 'karma-bhoomi' and witnessed grand celebrations on his 150th birth anniversary last week.
The Maharashtra Congress has taken strong umbrage over the MGIHU step against the students who hail from Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes as it would affect their educational careers.
"Their crime was that they were writing letters to the PM with a desire to bring to his notice the social problems currently faced by our society. The action also indicates partisan approach by the university because only six backward students were chosen for taking action against," Congress General Secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant said in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of poll-bound Maharashtra.
"It must be noted that these students neither represent any particular (political) party nor are furthering any political agenda. We have questioned if the Election Commission of India has given the rights to the MGIHU to initiate such suo-moto action against the students for the alleged violation of poll codes," Sawant told IANS.
Demanding strong action against the varsity officials, he said this is a serious offence by the university where free exchange of thoughts and freedom of expression are expected to to be encouraged, but it is "very disturbing" that the government-run institution has chosen to taken the law in its hand.
Despite repeated attempts by IANS, the top university authorities in Wardha including Vice-Chancellor Rajneesh Shukla, the varsity spokesperson and officials at its branches in Allabahad and Kolkata were not available for comments.
The stunned students informed mediapersons on Friday that they had written to the Prime Minister on current and general issues like mob lynching incidents, targeting of depressed sections, the proposed sale of public sector undertakings like the railways and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, the problems in various banks, and others.
The six expelled scholars are: Chandan Saroj, Rajnish Ambedkar, Pankaj Wela (SCs) and Neeraj Kumar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav and Vaibhav Pimpalkar (OBCs).
Saroj told IANS that the university found these letters objectionable and have expelled them for taking part "without permission" in a nationwide programme when liberals and civil society members had protested the slapping of sedition charges against 49 celebrities who had written to the Prime Minister.
The MGIHU letter has been signed by the Acting Registrar Rajeshwar Singh.