A Brief Timeline of the Security Issue on Campus

On 31st August, a postgraduate student at IIT Kanpur told the Students’ Senate about her horrific experience with the Institute security. She alleged being threatened and verbally abused by Mr. Sandeep Shivare, the Security Officer (SO) at IIT.

This is not an isolated incident. The meeting of the Senate was the culmination of a series of incidents and revelations regarding security overreach at the campus, which left the campus community appalled, and concerned about their own safety, freedom, and security.

The first domino was flipped on the evening of 30th August, when an Open House meet had been scheduled by a group of faculty and students to discuss the issues relating to the firing of Visitor Hostel (VH) staff. Vaibhav Vaish, an alumnus, and winner of the Director’s Gold Medal in 2004, was initially denied entry by the SiS (Institute security) guards because he did not have an ID card.

He was allowed to attend the meeting after faculty members intervened.

During the meeting, it came to be known that a student had been apprehended by the SiS guards on the previous night and taken to the security control room, while he was putting up posters for the open house. The reason: the student did not have permission for putting up posters—something that is unheard of in the Institute.

After the meet, the attendees found more than a dozen SiS guards, along with members of the Uttar Pradesh police waiting for them. Mr. Vaish was asked to step aside, apparently for security-related questioning. A video emerged the next morning, depicting an altercation between security members, and faculty and students. It became clear that the Institute’s Security had been “given” sweeping powers to enforce security measures as they saw fit by Dr. Deepu Philip, professor and chairman of Security Advisory and Executive Committee.

A special meeting of the Senate was then scheduled for the 31st August, where increasing interference from security on campus was one of the agenda items.

New, shocking revelations came up during this meet.

A final year undergraduate student recounted his experience. One summer night, he was in the OAT, watching an Indo-Pak cricket match with his friends. While leaving the venue, he was asked to produce his ID card. He did not have it with him. He was misbehaved with, and taken to the SiS control room for questioning. In the SiS control room, Dr. Philip appeared again. The student was threatened that he would be charged with sections 151 (which relates to unlawful assembly and disturbance of public peace) and 153 (which relates to rioting) of the Indian Penal Code. He was then asked to write a statement, and then to modify his original words, as it showed the security officials in a negative light. Already having suffered hours of mental agony, he relented, wrote a statement more aligned to what they wanted, and was let go.

An M.Tech student in the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering also shared her experience in the Senate. Her problem began when she noticed a man loitering on the 2nd floor of GH-2. To discover the identity of the individual, she went to the gate to look at the entry register. She was told that it was Mr. Shivhare, the security officer and that he was not mandated to make any entry in the hall registers. The guard did check the register though, and there was an entry made under the name of “S.K.S”. Having seen the entry, she assumed the matter was sorted. Twenty minutes later, a lady guard knocked on her door and told her Mr. Shivhare wanted to talk to her. In spite of her assurances that the matter was sorted, Mr. Shivare launched into a tirade. Mr. Shivhare continued by saying that the entry register was his property since he was the security in charge of the campus and that she had no right to view the contents of the register. About half an hour later, she was summoned to meet an officer downstairs. There, she found an officer in khaki uniform, two SiS guards, and Mr. Shivhare’s relative, waiting for her. The relative started accusing her of trying to intrude into her personal life. The officer present noted down her roll number, and other such details, and let her go.

The Deputy Director subsequently sent out an email to all on 1st September, saying that security personnel will be trained and briefed appropriately. The email also mentioned that the Chairman, SAEC (Prof. Phillip) had offered his resignation from the post. Even though a local news report suggests that the resignation has been rejected, there has been no official communication in this regard.

Written by Bashirul Islam Sheikh, Simrat Singh