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NLSIU students set fire in acad block after homophobic vandalism against faculty last year

NLS: Students, faculty, admin distressed
NLS: Students, faculty, admin distressed

One or several NLSIU Bangalore students allegedly vandalised notice boards on campus allotted to four of the law school’s faculty members.

The incident came within six months of another faculty member’s notice board having been defaced with homophobic writing, allegedly by a law school student.

A source with knowledge of the incident told Legally India that on Monday night students apparently entered the academic block of the law school, wrote offensive messages and set on fire and partially burned down one faculty notice board.

Two very senior faculty members and two faculty members who are NLSIU alumni were targeted by the vandalism. The fire did not spread beyond the noticeboards.

NLSIU visiting faculty Maithreyi Mulupuru, who is also a 2002 graduate of the law school, confirmed in an email that certain faculty offices were vandalised on Sunday night, with the damage having been discovered on Monday morning. “My office was, indeed, one of those affected. Sexist insults were scrawled on the walls of the faculty corridor, outside the doors of certain faculty members.”

“The incident has distressed us at the national law school - students, faculty and administration - deeply. There is a concerted effort being made to find the culprits. I personally have received messages of solidarity and support from across the law school, its students and its alumni,” said Mulupuru.

“I think in every community you have some individuals who end up doing such things, who aren’t very mature,” commented a student who declined to be named, adding: “No one knows who is behind it. There are very few ways of finding out. There are no CCTV cameras in the academic block.”

The student told Legally India that several emails have been sent out on NLSIU students’ common emailing system condemning the incident, and “dozens of messages” on the notice board have requested that the perpetrators come forward and take responsibility instead of shifting the blame on the entire student body.

The student bar council (SBC) had released an internal statement condemning the incident and apologising to the faculty involved.

Sunday’s vandalism follows an October 2013 incident, where one or more persons at the college had scribbled homophobic comments and expletives on the notice board of another faculty member.

A student, commenting on the October incident, said: “He was our professor in first year, and very much loved. We are still trying to understand why [he was targeted]. If some teacher is hated then we can still understand, this teacher is very dear to every student. This could be [due to people’s] tendency to single out people and make them aware that they are different from others. In this law school we are very much for homosexuality.”

“I am sure he was hurt,” added the student, but noted that the faculty member “took it very well”.

NLSIU vice chancellor (VC) Prof R Venkata Rao confirmed the incident and the names of the targeted faculty members, and said: “The administration has initiated measures which clearly send a signal to all that such things will not be tolerated. There will be zero tolerance for such acts. We have an internal mechanism to deal with this. Beyond this I cannot say anything.”

On Tuesday evening the law school’s administration announced that the academic block would shut to students from 10pm, whereas until then it had been open to students as a study space until 3am.

It is understood that in 1999 at NLSIU, a faculty member’s door had also been burnt and remarks had been scribbled on it, and around 2000, mattresses were burnt on a terrace at the college.

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