Mumbai- In a recent development, IIT Bombay made headlines by removing Sudhir Chaudhary, a prominent journalist, from its list of speakers at the institute's annual business conclave. The decision came after widespread backlash and protests from students over Chaudhary's controversial remarks and past conduct. The event, organized by the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Bombay, was slated to feature Chaudhary speaking on journalism and entrepreneurship. However, the institute faced mounting pressure to reconsider its invitation due to concerns surrounding the journalist's alleged biases and insensitive comments towards marginalized communities. Chaudhary was replaced by ShopClues founder Radhika Agarwal.
The controversial anchor had ridiculed former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for his "tribal" background during a show. The comments made by the anchor were seen as highly contemptuous of the tribal community, exposing the stereotypes harbored by the mainstream media.
Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday, January 31. During his primetime show "Black and White" on the same day, Chaudhary suggested that Soren and his family were not "Adivasis" (tribals) as they lived in "big bungalows." Showing gross disregard for the sentiments of the community, he said that Soren’s night in prison would be like "going back by 20, 30, 40 years like an Adivasi in the jungle."
These remarks were not taken lightly, and several police complaints and FIRs were filed against the journalist across the country. There was massive outrage against the journalist on social media, with people demanding his immediate arrest, reminding that Sudhir Chaudhary had also gone to jail when caught on camera demanding a bribe of Rs 100 crore from the Jindal Group.
When IIT-Bombay students learned about the invitation to Chaudhary, they registered their protest with the administration through email. A student from the SC-ST students' group told The Mooknayak, "We received an email from the Dean Students Welfare that Sudhir Chaudhary is one of the invitees. We convened a meeting of students to discuss the issue and sent a letter to the Director, Dean, and SC ST Cell voicing our concern. The letter pointed out that Mr. Sudhir Chaudhry had made discriminatory statements against the tribal community during his news show ‘Black and White,’ reflecting his deep-seated bias against the indigenous and tribal community. The invitation to Chaudhary could be seen as an attempt to legitimize the highly prejudiced views of the news personality and urged to drop his name." The institute apparently felt the need to make the amendment and dropped the name of Chaudhary from the list of speakers.
A revised invitation sent to students on Saturday night informed that Chaudhary, who was scheduled to speak at the event on Sunday about Journalism and entrepreneurship, was replaced by ShopClues founder Radhika Agarwal.
Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle, another student outfit, also protested against the invite to Sudhir Chaudhary. The student outfit wrote on Twitter, "We wonder what kind of example @iitbombay and @ecell_iitb wish to set in front of its students by inviting a person like @sudhirchaudhary, who is well known for his hate-mongering and spineless journalism, while it cancels a talk by a renowned scholar like Prof Devy!"
The institute apparently bowed to the pressure and dropped the name of Chaudhary from the list of speakers. Hansraj Meena, founder of Tribal Army, who played an instrumental role in catapulting the issue on social media, welcomed the decision of IIT Bombay to drop Chaudhary as a guest. He said, "Jai Johar to the students of IIT Bombay because they have upheld the dignity of the 15 crore tribals in the country by protesting against Chaudhary." He said that the Jharkhand Police should take action against the journalist as a complaint against the SC/ST act has been registered against him in the state.
Meanwhile, the journalist apologized to the "Adivasi" community on social media and said that "Criticism of Hemant Soren was seen as an insult of the entire tribal community." But this apology has not abated the anger against him, and the call for his arrest continues to grow louder.