Students’ organisations in Assam have slammed some colleges for seeking specific caste and religion of applicants in online forms for graduate courses.
Organisations such as the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Chhatra Mukti Sangram Samiti said these forms go beyond the standard policy of asking students to tick boxes such as Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Castes for the purpose of reservation.
Online forms issued by Guwahati-based higher education institutes such as Handique Girls’ College, Arya Vidyapeeth College and Karmashree Hiteswar Saikia College have asked applicants to specify if they are Brahmin, Ganak, Kalita, Kayastha, Muslim, Sudra, Vaishya or Other.
“This is blatant casteism and unprecedented in the education history of Assam. We cannot allow this to happen,” said Himangshu Bora, president of SFI’s Kamrup (Metropolitan) district committee.
The students’ organisations asked the college authorities to withdraw or remove the web page seeking the specific caste and religion of the applicants. They urged the government to probe the “mischief” or face protests.
Sikhamoni Konwar, Principal, Karmashree Hiteswas Saikia College, said the vendor assigned the job of creating the admission forms put the caste and religion section arbitrarily.
“The college did not give any instruction of specifying castes of the students. We had asked the vendor to make a simple, hassle-free admission form and upload it on the college website,” she told journalists. "The vendor had been asked delete the objectionable part and upload the form again," she added.
Preetom Saikia, Commissioner-Secretary of the Higher Education Department, said officials have been asked to probe the matter. “There is no government policy on specifying caste or sub-caste. Some action will be taken,” he asserted.