Controversial ‘vegetarians only’ posters at IIT Bombay canteen spark dispute


Mumbai’s Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) has found itself embroiled in a dispute over food discrimination as students raised concerns about “vegetarians only” posters displayed on the walls of a canteen in one of the hostels. The issue came to light after a photograph of the posters, which stated that only vegetarians were allowed to sit in that area, went viral on social media last week.
An official from the institute confirmed awareness of the posters but stated that they were unable to ascertain who had put them up in the canteen. He clarified that there were no assigned seats based on food preferences, and the institute was in the dark about the identity of the individuals responsible for the posters.
Reacting to the incident, members of the student collective known as the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) condemned the action and took down the posters. The APPSC stated that despite their inquiries, it was evident that the institute had no official policy endorsing food segregation.
Nevertheless, some students had taken it upon themselves to label certain areas of the mess as “vegetarians only,” effectively excluding others from those spaces.
Subsequent to the incident, the hostel’s general secretary sent an email to all students addressing the matter. He pointed out that while there was a designated counter for Jain food distribution, there was no specified sitting area for those who consumed Jain food. He acknowledged reports of individuals forcibly designating certain mess areas as “Jain sitting space,” thereby preventing non-vegetarian food consumers from sitting there. The general secretary emphasised that such behaviour was unacceptable, and no student had the right to remove another student from any area of the mess based on food preferences. He warned that strict action would be taken against anyone involved in similar incidents in the future.
As the situation unfolds, the institute is working to address the issue and promote an inclusive and respectful environment for all students.