IIT-K professor abuses SC, ST students in class; stirs row on discrimination

An associate professor at IIT Kharagpur on Monday triggered a row on discrimination after she was seen abusing her students belonging to scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and physically handicapped communities in an online class. 

The video of the same was shared online and is now viral, with many students and academicians across the country calling for her resignation.

In the anonymously shared video on the confessions page of IIT-K, the English professor, identified as Seema Singh was taking an online preparatory class for students belonging to SC, ST communities and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). In it she can be heard repeatedly hurling abuses at them.

She had purportedly abused them for not standing up for the national anthem and not saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ during the class. Apart from abusing, she had also threatened the group of marking them ‘zero’ (in the exams).

“This is the minimum you can do for your country…You have to stand up for only two minutes in honour of the national anthem, and you cannot do that? You bloody bastard. This is also on your parents. Do you have any shame? Are you in school, bloody bastards?,” she said.

“What I have to do, I will do. Nothing on earth can prevent me from doing that thing. Go to the Ministry of Woman and Child  Development, go to the Ministry of SC/ST and Minorities, nothing will prevent me from doing what I have to do to you. Is it clear? Hello, bloody bastards, is it clear? “ she continued.

In another video, Singh can be seen shouting at a student from the same class, for sending her a “silly” email asking for a few days leave after the demise of her grandfather.

Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) in IIT Bombay, demanded that the professor be terminated and booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. “She is in complete cognisance of her actions and proclaims immunity from any disciplinary actions and consequences,” said APPSC in a statement.

The Bahujan community and students across various colleges have strongly opposed her remarks. The incident has also created a stir on social media, with #End_Casteism_In_IIT trending on Twitter by later Monday evening.

In a report by Live Wire, Bahujan students said that it isn’t really about the national anthem, but her attitude towards the SC, ST and OBC students trying to get a seat in one of the IITs.

Besides, the alumni association of IIT also responded strongly to the professor’s remarks. “It is evident from the videos that Professor Singh is a habitual offender and believes her casteism and abuse will go uncensored,” they wrote in a letter to the director of IIT-K, with six demands.

  1. IIT KGP and Professor Singh issue an unconditional apology to the students.
  2. The institute terminate Professor Singh.
  3. The institute take strong punitive action against Professor Singh – her behavior attracts provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  4. The institute arrange for all necessary support to concerned students to cope with the unwarranted humiliation.
  5. The institute set up a SC, ST, and OBC Cell (along the lines of those in other universities and UGC letter no. F.1–26/76 (CP/SCT) dated June 27, 1979) to act as an anti-caste discrimination cell, take strict action against casual and structural casteism and work towards sensitizing the campus about structural discrimination.
  6. The institute take all steps necessary to ensure that students are treated with dignity and respect, and that casteism is eradicated from the campus. 

The professor is lively to face an institutional action, Hindustan Times reported, stating that the videos are currently under review of the administration. The Print also reported that the director held a virtual meeting with the students to address their concerns.