Suspension, Expulsion, and Mistreatment of Students Ignite Protests at Wardha University

Three research scholars have been expelled and two students were suspended, alleging that they utilized social media to disseminate information and protested during the Vice Chancellor's speech.
Students sitting outside campus protesting Vivek Mishra's removal from hostel
Students sitting outside campus protesting Vivek Mishra's removal from hostelNiranjan Oberoi

Mumbai- At Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha, Maharashtra, students have alleged experiencing a prolonged period of exploitation and mistreatment. The latest episode unfolded during the Republic Day address by the Vice Chancellor, where certain students voiced their dissent against the appointment of a Vice Chancellor, they deemed unqualified.

Despite the students' peaceful expression of dissent, the university administration took severe action against them. Three research scholars have been expelled and two students were suspended, alleging that they utilized social media to disseminate information and protested during the Vice Chancellor's speech.

The Mooknayak spoke to a suspended student named Vivek Mishra, who said he was asked to vacate his hostel room on Saturday within two hours. Vivek is pursuing a graduate degree in Theatre from the university. The anguished student said, “Yesterday, around 2 PM, I was handed a notice which stated my expulsion from the hostel owing to a social media post about the Republic Day protest which apparently went against the culture of the university. They gave me two hours to clear out my belongings. I further responded to the notice by asking them to approach this situation with evidence but that did not happen. By 6 PM, guards were sent to forcefully throw me out of the accommodation, who attacked me violently.”

The student expressed worriedly, “The guards then made me board a car while hurling abuses which dropped me off at the gate of the hostel. The administration, led by the registrar Dharvesh Katheria, came to the spot and continued with the abuse. I then went to the police to file an FIR. Till now, they have not filed an FIR, but I did register a complaint against the administration including the registrar stating they are against my life.”

He further said, “Few of my friends were sitting just outside the hostel gate to protest against this, but Katheria came with some more guards and forcefully threw them out of the campus, on the national highway. He then threatened us by saying if we decide to do anything, he will make sure that we are picked up by thugs.”

Even after the day, Vivek continues to be resilient in his outlook. He said, “We sat outside the campus gates to protest the whole night. Most of our hostel mates were sent back by night and only 2-3 of us were remaining by midnight. Again, guards come in and forces us out while water is sprayed on the ground so that we are not able to sit again. Few of us then went and slept at Wardha railway station and returned to the site at 8 AM to resume the demonstration.”

Students supporting Vivek Mishra outside the campus
Students supporting Vivek Mishra outside the campusVivek Mishra

The expelled students further assert that the university administration unfairly singled them out without conducting a thorough investigation or affording them the opportunity to present their side of the story. They highlight a pervasive atmosphere of fear cultivated by figures such as the Registrar and former Vice Chancellor. Moreover, they decry biased media coverage that has exacerbated the situation and tarnished their reputations.

Efforts to obtain a comment from Registrar Dharvesh Katheria have been made, but there has been no response from him thus far.

Why Were the Students at Wardha Protesting?

The Mooknayak reached out to another student from the university who has now been removed from the PhD programme. Niranjan Oberoi is a scholar and one of the five students and scholars who faced a similar fate. The scholar explained the history of the protests, “on 14th August 2023, the former Vice Chancellor Ravish Kumar Shukla handed over his resignation. According to the rules and regulations of the university, the next in command was supposed to be the senior most professor at the campus. L. Karunyakara, a Dalit professor, was then handed the responsibilities accordingly. But just after two months, a new notice was circulated which made IIM Nagpur’s previous director Bhimaraya Metri the new Vice Chancellor, taking the power away from professor Karunyakara. This goes against the legalities of the university.”

“The professor has filed a petition at Nagpur bench and all the active student unions have been sending letters to the administration and memorandums to the president ever since. Through one among the multiple letters directed to the administration, we stated that if the illegal post holder is given an opportunity to hoist our national flag during events, we will stand against the person. But what the administration did is that they informed the police that we are opposing hoisting of the flag. On Republic Day, after the flag was hoisted and the new VC had started speaking, two scholars unfurled black banners which read ‘illegal VC go back’, leading to their detention.”

Consequently, the university took decisive action by expelling Ph.D. research scholars Rajesh Kumar Yadav and Niranjan Oberoi, revoking their registrations. Additionally, they cancelled the admission of postgraduate diploma student Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar. The university defends these actions as necessary steps to maintain discipline and ensure the continuation of a productive academic atmosphere.

Apparently, the administration used the opportunity to target other politically active students as well. Oberoi alleged, “I was not even at the place when the incident happened, yet I was served the notice stating my discontinuation. This was done because I have been actively involved in college politics, opposing any and every unconstitutional activity in the campus.”

Despite facing these challenges, the expelled students are resolute in their pursuit of justice. They plan to utilize constitutional avenues, including protests and legal recourse, to address what they perceive as unjust treatment and to advocate for their rights within the university community. The scholar remarked, “We will take every necessary step, keeping in mind the constitution. I will also be filing an RTI against the show-cause notice handed to us as it says I have been involved in anti-university work and have been suspended in the past. All these allegations are false, and I want to know the basis of such a notice.”


Niranjan Oberoi is also a petitioner in another case against the college administration. He alleged, “In 2019, entrances were held for various masters and PhD programmes. A large-scale corruption took place then, with many individuals close to the administrative post holders getting into the university without any legal reason. This affected Dalit and Bahujan students the most as many did not hold the same social capital." The scholar added, "I was one of the primary petitioners against this and a suit was registered at Nagpur bench. The case is still going on.”

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