The non-vegetarian directive was issued not by IIT authorities, but by a student council in charge of hostel number 11. While all IIT hostels have the option of non-vegetarian meals, the memo was issued only to students living in hostel number 11.
The regular menu at hostels on IIT-Bombay's campus is entirely vegetarian, but students can opt for non-vegetarian items by paying Rs 40 to Rs 50 per plate. These items are served on plastic tray plates that are smaller than the steel plates provided in the regular vegetarian buffet. The circular was sent on January 12 via email by hostel 11's student council - a student body that governs the hostel's functioning. The email states, "I am getting concerns from many students over separate plates for non-vegetarian food. Therefore, this is a request to all non-vegetarians to please use only the tray plates meant specially for non-vegetarian dishes. Please do not use the main plates for non-vegetarian food."
One of the hostel inmates said, "We've seen other hostels where there are separate tables for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, but it is ironical that this is happening at such an elite institute. This rule has been made by a student body, but authorities must be aware of it. However, until someone raises the issue, officials prefer to remain silent spectators."
Another student said there has not been any major conflict over non-veg food in the mess, but a few students have complained about it. "Such an illogical and baseless step was taken after a few vegetarian students expressed their discomfort with non-vegetarian food being eaten in the same plates. Forget about the irritation to non-vegetarians, it is a matter of shame for an institution that is recognised globally as top-notch."
Ritika Verma, general secretary of hostel 11's student council, told mid-day, "This is not a new rule. It is just a reiteration of a regulation that has existed for many years at all the hostels on IIT-B campus." She emphasised that she too is a non-vegetarian, and said, "I feel no discrimination here. There have always been separate plates for non-vegetarian food. Yet, a few students were seen eating non-vegetarian food in regular plates."
"This reminder was sent out after a few students raised religious concerns; the mess team has been generous to make all comfortable. A request issued in a positive approach has been turned into an issue by a few. While there is no opposition from the hostel residents, we see a few former residents reacting negatively on social media," she added.
Rs 50 The approximate cost of a non-vegetarian meal.