Young graduate student Buddhi Vikram is still languishing in US prisons since 2006 for allegedly sending threat mails to the then President George Bush and all efforts of his father, another IIT alumnus, to garner support have failed. The IIT alumni were supposed to take up Vikram’s case with former President Bill Clinton during his address to the PanIIT 2009 conference held earlier this week at Chicago, but allegedly could not muster up courage to do so.
This has started a fresh debate among the IIT alumni about their annual conference itself. Moneylife has come across some chain mails that are doing rounds on the Internet about PanIIT’s failure to take up Vikram’s case.
Vikram was arrested in April 2006 and charged on 11 counts, including charges under US Code 871, which deals with threats to the US president and his successor. If proved guilty, he could be sentenced to imprisonment up to 60 years. Vikram graduated in mathematics with an MSc degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, stood first in the class and received a silver medal from IIT.
According to Dr Buddhi K Subbarao, a former defence scientist who worked with the Indian Navy, and father of Vikram, PanIIT association conference organisers at Chicago buckled under pressure from US authorities. "It is amazing to me to know the twists and turns from the events at the PAN-IIT Conference," said Dr Subbarao, who holds a PhD in nuclear technology from IIT Bombay.
Echoing the same feeling, one of the attendees at the PanIIT conference, Ajeet Saxena, said, "These (the PanIIT fellows) are the guys who were not even known within their own batch and are now looking for some public recognition and scenes of importance by holding some 'public' office. They are goody-goody, out to maintain status quo, please all those in authority and somehow pose for photo sessions. They have nothing to do with matters of truth, righteousness and justice—as advocating any of these three requires courage and involves risk. Championing the cause of truth and justice antagonises people in powerful positions—people on whose crumbs these creatures thrive, and one faces the danger of not only losing the privileges offered by the establishment but even the risk of being victimised. So, don't expect anything from them."
Another IIT alumnus, who attended the conference after some reluctance, Samir Kelekar has termed the behaviour at the conference as a "tamasha". He said, “I didn’t see any difference in the PanIIT tamasha in Chennai. In fact, nothing of any consequence of social political change was taken up or (issues of more importance) followed up. While some of us fight for democracy and freedom of speech, others just are not concerned, but just 'suck up' to authorities and perhaps are trying to strike good business deals."
Earlier in August, Dr Subbarao, in an appeal to SM Krishna, external affairs minister, India said, ”Vikram is awaiting his sentencing at a US prison in Chicago. In prison, he has been conducting himself in a dignified manner, teaching mathematics to inmates as per the formal program prescribed by the prison authorities, and in the rest of the time making a serious and in-depth study of US Federal Criminal Laws with the hope that a time would come where some US Court would apply its judicial mind to secure the ends of justice and his life and liberty would be restored to him.”
So while Vikram continues to languish in a US prison, his fellow alumni from IIT were not even bothered to help him. Do we have to say any more on why we, the citizens of India, lack patriotic spirit?