Sunday, May 07, 2006 00:28 IST
During the convocation ceremony at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, many toppers marched to the podium in black badges and black ribbons to accept their certificates and awards. They were protesting
against the government’s role in the Narmada Bachao Andolan and Bhopal gas tragedy.
Sampreet Singh, a former TISS topper, set the tone of the protest. The PM had just dwelt on the creation of an equal social justice system to ensure a meaningful democracy, when Sampreet stood up with a black banner that said “Development or Destruction —The question of Narmada, Mumbai Slums.”
Special Branch police officers whisked him away for interrogation. Police Commissioner AN Roy said, “The person detained was released after five hours.”
Later, Sampreet and other students spoke to DNA, confirming their aim was to attract the attention of the PM and public to the issue.
“TISS authorities told us not to wear black badges and ribbons. But this was our only chance to express our concerns directly to the Prime Minister,” claimed Aruna Pandey, a student.
Earlier, the PM in his speech conceded that the government lacked professionally trained manpower in the social sector.
“Institutions like TISS can send forth to society motivated and hardworking personnel who could improve the human resource element of government programmes,” the Prime Minister said.