Chennai: As a team of doctors in Chennai tried to save IIT-Madras student Sooraj R's right eye, his friends said protests on the campus would escalate if action was not taken against students who attacked him for eating beef.
Sooraj had not consumed beef at a "beef festival", though the meat was served at a gathering of students, the 36-year- old student's college mates said.
The PhD scholar in the Aerospace Engineering department lost partial vision in the eye and suffered multiple fractures on his face in the May 30 attack.
Doctors at Apollo hospital operated on his eye on Thursday. Students said it would be a week or so before they would know the status of the damaged eye.
IIT students who met the institute's director on Thursday told PTI that protests would be organised if action was not taken against the group of students, allegedly affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who attacked Sooraj.
Protest marches were held in IIT Madras and IIT Bombay against the assault on May 31.
"We are planning more protests if necessary actions are not taken against the attackers," said IIT-M student Abhinav.
The protests were being planned by members of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, which takes up Dalit issues.
Abhinav said Tamil Nadu's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its youth wing had extended their support to Sooraj and others.
"The Left parties have also expressed solidarity with us. Many other institutions are also with us on this," he said.
Sooraj's friend, Manoj Parameswaran, said they had not organised a beef festival on the campus as was being alleged.
"Students had gathered to discuss a government order on cattle trade," Parameswaran, who was present at the meeting, said.
The government says its rule on the sale of cows and buffaloes is aimed at improving the way they are treated at livestock markets, but the notification is being seen in many quarters as a ban on traditional diets.
After the meeting, beef was served at the gathering, Parameswaran said.
"We will not call it a beef festival," he held.
He said the attackers accosted Sooraj, asked him if he had eaten beef and started hitting him when he said yes.
"There was no provocation from our side," he said.
The Chennai police on Wednesday booked eight students and an FIR was lodged under various sections.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the assault on Sooraj, who belongs to the state's Malappuram district. DMK supremo M K Stalin also visited him at the hospital.
Sooraj, who is in the ICU now, is being looked after by his uncle in Chennai. His aged parents have returned to Malappuram, the friends said.