Varanasi- IIT BHU students received a gag directive on January 2, raising concerns about the violation of their right to freedom of expression. This directive, issued by the Public Relations (PR) cell of the university, prohibits students from interacting with the media without prior authorization from the appropriate authorities. The email stated, "Effective immediately, all students and student bodies of IIT BHU are strictly prohibited from issuing any statements, interviews, or comments to any print or electronic media outlets without obtaining prior authorization from the appropriate authorities."
The directive also warned that non-compliance could lead to appropriate disciplinary actions in accordance with the institute's regulations.
Prashant Pandey, a member of the student wing NSUI (National Students Union of India) and an IIT BHU student, expressed his protest against the directive. He stated, "This is wrong and violates the freedom of expression granted to us. The administration wants to deprive us of the rights given by Babasaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the constitution. Students will not be able to air their grievances if they are not allowed to speak to the media. The IIT director should take cognizance of the issue."
IIT BHU gained attention in the news following the stripping and rape of a girl on November 1st, leading to protests on campus. Media coverage intensified, with organizations regularly interacting with students. Media attention subsided after the administration agreed to construct a wall separating the IIT from the rest of the campus. However, the campus made headlines again when the accused were arrested on December 30th in Varanasi. The victim had identified the culprits from CCTV footage, but the police hesitated to act against them, alleging their affiliation with the BJP IT Cell. Madhu Garg from the AIDWA commented, "We also went to BHU, and the students there were saying they know the accused are from BJP, but the police are not arresting them. It was only after a lot of pressure that they were arrested."
The Public Relations department is responsible for the official communication of the department or institute within which it operates. It is authorized to speak on any issue to the media or any external body or individual with queries regarding a particular issue.