If you have been following the developments that have taken place in University of Hyderabad in the last few days, you are surely going to question two things: the clout of upper caste people in institutes and government’s apathy towards holding the university accountable for the PhD. scholar Rohith Vemula’s death. University of Hyderabad has been tense since the last few day and its ripples can be felt across the country. Here’s a brief rundown of events that unfolded.
Student Protests in University of Hyderabad campus
The anger, which was percolated down to the last student in the university after Vemula’s suicide, flared up on 22 March when the students saw the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile resuming office. How could he resume office when the judicial probe against him is still pending? That was the question on everyone’s mind. When students assembled outside Rao’s residence in campus, they were dragged outside the premises following which the they retaliated by throwing stones at the police. Some of the students vandalised the office causing a lot of damage.
Attempts at Suppressing Protests and Cases of Human Rights Violations
Some of the non-teaching staff, who owe allegiance to the Vice Chancellor, reportedly shut down the mess facilities on campus. The protesting students were completely distraught when they discovered water shortage as well. Only when the administration was threatened with a case of human rights violation for cutting off access to food and water, that the supplies were restored.
The harrowing hours, which the students experienced at the campus, multiplied several times because they didn’t have electricity or access to Wi-Fi. Despite spending days in such a vicious environment, the students managed to mobilise support through social media and invited media to report such repressing acts.
According to media reports, around 44 students had to be treated for injuries at the health centre of the University of Hyderabad after the police lathicharged on students who were observing sit-in protest on the lawns in front of the VC’s residence on 22 March. Complains against police harassment and manhandling were many.
While the students say that they were being provoked to commit acts of violence when their intention was to protest this “highly inappropriate” development within the campus, the Cyberabad Police statement revealed that the students “raised slogans against VC and police”, “abused the police” and “tried to commit cognizable offence”. All the 31 students and an assistant professor of Political Science were booked under IPC 149, section 3, which translates to unlawful assembly under Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
After the university authorities allegedly shut down the mess facilities on campus, the students were left with no other option than to fend for themselves. When they took to cooking their food in the university premises, one of the PhD. students, Uday Bhanu, was allegedly beaten up by the police.
Kanhaiya Receives a Cold Treatment
The university officials didn’t allow Kanhaiya Kumar inside the campus and it maintained that no outsiders would be entertained. Kanhaiya, who was invited by the Joint Action Committee to address the students, had to deliver a short speech at the main gates of the campus. He talked about the right to dissent and need for bringing social justice to the country. Both Kanhaiya and Vemula’s friends called for a legislation, “The Rohith Act”, to curb and punish caste discrimination at colleges.
Future of 1,000 Post-graduation students uncertain
In the midst of a tense situation for the last couple of months, what is worrying 1,000 post-graduation students is the fact that the end-of-semester examinations are supposed to be held between 14 and 30 April and university administration has declared holidays until 28 March. Hence, there is a fair degree of uncertainty about semester and final-year students who seek clarity from the officials.
28 March 2016: Hyderabad University students held for ransacking VC’s office receive bail
All 25 students along with two faculty members of Hyderabad Central University, who were arrested for alleged violence on the campus on 22 March, have been granted bail by the 25th Metropolitan Magistrate at Miyapur court. While the classes resumed, the court asked the students and the two professors to pay surety of Rs. 5000 each followed by appearing before the Station House Officer of Gachibowli police station every Saturday until the chargesheet is filed.
29 March 2016: Students released on bail get back to university campus
The 25 students, who were released on bail on 28 March are slated to return to campus today. However, these students would be attending the classes wearing black and blue ribbons as a mark of protest. In the evening, students will address a press conference. Senior Congress leader and former union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is likely to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on 30 March on the state of affairs at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU).