UAPA event cancellation: IISER Mohali issues notice to teachers critical of IISc Bangalore
The institute has directed two of its faculty members, who were the only two from IISER Mohali to register “dismay” over IISc’s cancellation of a talk on UAPA, to explain their actions by July 13
Two faculty members at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali have received showcause notices for signing a letter protesting the cancellation of a discussion on the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The faculty members, who were the only two from the institute to sign the letter, have been asked to explain their participation without prior approval. The institute has frozen their research funds until they respond to the notice by July 13. The administration believes they violated the Central Civil Services Conduct Rules applicable to all IISER Mohali employees.
The faculty members and the institute’s director have not responded to requests for comment. Some faculty members believe that no rules were violated and that this incident reflects the current climate where protests are increasingly seen as punishable. The institute has issued notices in the past, but it was unexpected in the case of the IISc letter.
The letter, signed by over 500 scientists, academics, and students, expressed dismay at the IISc administration’s decision to cancel the discussion led by Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita. The letter clarified that the institutional affiliations of the signatories were for identification purposes only and did not reflect the views of their institutes.
Narwal and Kalita were arrested in 2020 for their alleged involvement in the Northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case and were later charged under the UAPA. They were granted bail by the Delhi High Court a year later.
The event, scheduled to be held at the Center for Continuing Education, was canceled by the IISc Registrar on June 27. The organizers had obtained permission from the CCE chair but were informed that they should have sought permission from the institute administration as well.
Critics argue that it is absurd for academics to face consequences for signing a reasonable letter addressed to the director of another institution, as it violates the principles of academic freedom.