All you need to know about the IIT Madras K-gate protest and what students want to say.

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IIT Madras administration has closed, Krishna Gate, one of the total five entry/exit point to the institute. The decision was taken by the administration after considering the intimation from the police. According to sources this gate was prone for dealing illegal and banned substances. Another major reason stated by the administration was women safety. The entry was closed by the administration without much intimation to the students. Several students and research scholars claim to have been effected by the abrupt closure of the gate.

The South Asian Express correspondent at IIT Madras reached out to the student community of IIT Madras to understand the ground situation. We spoke to the women students in IIT Madras.

Our first interaction was with a final year dual degree student, a resident of Sharavathi Hostel who gave us the interview on the conditions of anonymity. This is what she had to say about the closure of Krishna gate.

What is your honest opinion about the closure of the Krishna gate? How are you effected by this abrupt decision?

Yeah, the Krishna gate was closed in December by the admin abruptly but there are some efforts taken to trade off the inconveniences too. There was a petition to reopen the gate and it had four major point. And the protest that are happening right now is based on those grounds.

The first concern is about the students and scholars who stay outside the campus. It is difficult for them to move around. This is a genuine issue. The admin has taken necessary steps to overcome this issue. The bus timings to velachery gate was extended to 2AM (earlier 9:30 PM) and, I guess, now it is extended to 5AM. There will be some inconvinience but there is a trade off.

The second concern is about the students who will feel difficulty as they cannot access the food shops and photocopy shops outside Krishna gate.

There may be some students who use the facilities outside Krishna gate. But photocopy shops and eateries are not something that does not exist inside institute. We have better shops within the institute. It’s not something that you will not get anywhere else. I don’t think this is a genuine concern at all.

The third claim is that girls will find Krishna gate more safer than Taramani Gate and Velacherry gate.

This is ridiculous. I do not understand who has given this statement. Have they ever conducted a survey or reached out us before giving a statement in our name? First of all, only Tunga hostel is close to Krishna gate while other women’s’ hostels Sharav, Sabarmathi and Sarayu is not close to Krishna gate. The road outside Krishna gate is completely filled with smokers and as a non-smoker I really do not feel comfortable even to park my cycle over there. I have also interacted with many of my friends and nobody really wants to use the Krishna Gate. And, if you know, the road to Krishna gate ends at institute. It’s a dead end. I don’t know any woman who says K-Gate is safer than Velacherry gate or Taramani gate. This statement is completely ridiculous.

The fourth claim was that the Vanavani and KV students will face difficulties.

This is not completely true. If you observe a lot of students do come with T gate or V gate. In fact, a lot of people who enter K-gate are outsiders who have no relation with Institute. In that case, it is better that the gate is closed.

Do you think admin could have done anything else to solve the security issue instead of closing the gate?

There could be, of course, the petition says the admin should use more security personals to solve the issue instead of closing the gate. But, the area outside the gate does not fall under the purview of institute security. It is not just the women’s security issue that we are facing. There are multiple issues and the admin has clearly stated it in the mail. I think closing the gate is one of the simplest and best solution.

What do you think about the protest?

It is foul cry. If such protests continue it will be hard for us to have our concerns heard. We might also need to come out to streets to get our voice heard. That is not we want at the end of the day.

Anything else you would like to add?

The Krishna gate has been closed for some inevitable reasons and admin has taken enough measures to trade off the inconvenience of the students. Both dean of students and director are ready to listen to the students’ issues but some students with vested interests are not willing to co-operate and want to protest.

This particular protest has indirectly been supported by some secretaries too. Some secretaries and student body leaders think every decision should be made only after consulting them. And in this case it did not happen. You can see that the mail regarding petition was sent officially by the Student general secretary. Which is not acceptable at all. The admin is doing its best keeping the students’ concerns in mind. Students should leave their petty ego and try to understand the situation.

Another correspondent from SAE News was at the location of protest and interacted with two other female students from Sharavati hostels (Name redacted for privacy purpose). Both are in their second year of Engineering at IIT Madras.

Why don’t you join the protests?

I am not affected by the Krishna gate closure in any way. So I am not joining.

But the protestors claim women are the one most affected by the closure of Krishna gate? Haven’t you ever used Krishna gate before?

No, in most of the case we go to via the Velacherry gate and Main gate. In my past two years I had been there only once to eat some parota. Otherwise its useless.

Do you have any friends who have been effected by the closure?

Not really, most of them are ok. I am from Sharav and most of my friends are from Sharav. Not many women from Sharav actually use the Krishna gate.

The protestors raised slogans against the director and the Dean. The placards said “Wall does not protect her. It imprisons her”, “Wall Must Fall”, “K-gate is most safe, loved, wanted gate”, “Build bridges not walls”, “Smash Patriarchy” etc.

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