LENDING support to Anna Hazare’s campaign for a stronger Lokpal, a section of students at IIT- Kharagpur on Monday refused to accept degrees from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The PM was at the institute to address its 57th convocation programme.
While most of the protesters flaunted the Gandhi cap to express solidarity with the septuagenarian crusader, at least three MTech. students — including a girl — boycotted the programme. Shouting slogans and carrying placards in support of Anna, the protesters staged a sit- in near the campus. “I refused to receive my degree from the Prime Minister....I can collect it later from the office. I think that right now, responding to the call of the nation is more important than receiving a mere degree from the PM,” Shashi Shankar Singh, an MTech. student of structural engineering department, said.
Image: The PM releases a publication during the convocation.
Under the banner of ‘India Against Corruption Campaign’, the 70- odd students demonstrated near the Kharagpur campus and hit the road in support of the antigraft movement. But when they tried to head into the campus, they were threatened with arrest. “We could not receive permission from the IIT authorities to protest on the campus, so we chose this place,” Ritesh Singh, a third- year computer science BTech student, said.
Nearly 20 students have been on a hunger strike since August 18 and many more are scheduled to join them on a relay fast. The citizens of Kharagpur, who sat on the hunger strike with the students, have also formed the Kharagpur Citizens’ Forum to support the cause of Hazare.
Meanwhile, IIT KGP Claims that no student snubbed the PM. Here's what they have to say...
"The PM never even gave away any degree. It was the Institute Director who distributed degrees much after the PM had left. Where is then the question of anyone snubbing the PM by refusing to accept the degree? Also, no student refused any degree during the convocation today nor did anyone formally intimate us of his or her urge to not accept the degree," Professor BK Mathur, Dean, Planning and Coordination, IIT Kharagpur, today said, terming Singh's refusal to accept the degree as a "publicity stunt".
If he wants to refuse the degree, he must at least inform us, Mathur said. He explained that the PM did not distribute any degree and was simply present as chief guest when the Director announced that students were being bestowed with the honour of the IIT degree.