Hyderabad University row: Post V-C Appa Rao’s return, several SC/ST professors resign again – Firstpost

After scores of students belonging to different organisations were taken into police custody for holding protests near the Hyderabad Central University demanding arrest of Vice-Chancellor Professor Appa Rao Podile, the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum of the University have written a letter to the V-C reiterating their position on conditional withdrawal of resignation from their positions.

The letter, addressed to Professor Appa Rao, says, “…we now reiterate our stand that we are resigning from our position since you have returned as VC before the judicial probe is completed as well as in the light of highly disturbing events that have taken place on the campus since your return…”

Text of the letter is available here

 

Source: Hyderabad University row: Post V-C Appa Rao’s return, several SC/ST professors resign again – Firstpost

HCU Student Union President Zuhail K P Speech at the HCU Main Gate

 

HCU: Students Break Open Gates | Azaadi from Apparao

http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/protests-at-hyderabad-university-again-students-break-open-gates/410718?hp&video-featured

HCU 2500 acre ka Jail – Teesta Setalvad’s Speech – Justice For Rohith

HCU 2500 acre ka Jail – P K Biju ( Member of Parliament ) Speech – Justice For Rohith

HCU 2500 acre ka Jail – P Sampath ( Member of Parliament ) Speech – Justice For Rohith

After releasing from jail Prof. K Y Ratnam’s Speech in HCU – Justice For Rohith

Inspiring speech after his release by Tathagata Sengupta

28/3/2016 Student Union President Speech at Justice For Rohith Rally in HCU

 

Zuhail Kp, Hyderabad Central University Students’ Union (HCUSU) President, writes…

“Appa Rao has constituted a committee to negotiate with students. In this light we would like to reiterate that we will not negotiate with any of the accused in Rohith Vemula’s case or his representatives. He must resign from the post of VC.”

-Comrade Zuhail Kp, Hyderabad Central University Students’ Union (HCUSU) President

HCU students and faculty members granted bail

Update from Zuhail KP, President of the HCU Students’ Union:

“Rohith tere sapnom ko, ham manzil tak pahunchayenge….

All the students and faculty members who were arrested granted bail. The University fraternity expresses gratitude to all the people who supported our movement and cause. We will continue our struggle.
Jai Bhim, Lal Salaam”

Police Attack on UoH Students: A Photo Story by An Eye-Witness

I reached the protest site after the initial violence had taken place. Large number of students were staging a protest inside the premises of VC’s guesthouse.The students demanded the sacking of VC Appa Rao for his involvement in the institutional murder of Rohit Vemula. Earlier that morning Appa Rao resumed the post after ensuring support from the state and ABVP.The students were provoked by ABVP students who were already stationed in support of the VC because of which violence escalated and chaos prevailed.

 

Source: Police Attack on UoH Students: A Photo Story by An Eye-Witness

Interim Report of the Independent National Fact Finding Team on UoH

Title of the Case: Interim Report of the Independent National Fact Finding (FF) team into the Campus Violence on 22nd March, 2016 at the Hyderabad Central University

Date of the Fact Finding: March 24th – 25th 2016

uoh protest 5

Members of the Fact Finding Team:

Henri Tiphagne, Human Rights Defenders Alert, India, Tara Rao, Amnesty Intl, Burnard Fatima, International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism, Kuffir Nalgundwar, Round Table India, Kiruba Munusamy, Supreme Court Lawyer, Beena Pallical, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Ramesh Nathan, National Dalit Movement for Justice, Asha Kowtal, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Paul Divakar, Asia Dalit Rights Forum

Mandate of the Fact Finding Team:

1. To ascertain and understand the sequence of events that led to the escalation of violence on the 22nd of March at Hyderabad Central University (HCU).
2. To identify the human rights violations that transpired as a result of the events.
3. To contribute towards a restoration of normalcy, peace and an environment of non-discrimination in the University Campus by making key recommendations to the concerned parties – the University Administration, the Central Government, the State Government and University Students and Faculty.

The team comprising of senior activists, academicians and lawyers have met with the students, faculty members, the police, the Home Minister and local civil society organisations. The team will be presenting a more detailed report at a later date based on the compiled narratives and testimonies. This team was constituted as a response to the terrifying news of the escalation of violence at HCU on March 22, 2016.

The FF team had taken several efforts to fix appointments with the HCU officials and in particular with the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Appa Rao, the Registrar and the Chief Security Officer.

  •  In spite of formal letters being handed over, the VC had after taking a lot of time and communicating with the FF team [made to sit outside the HCU campus] finally refused to meet the FF team and directed the FF team to communicate with the Professor-in-charge, Public Relations and Official Spokesperson of the HCU that he had appointed the day before.
  •  When this Professor –in-charge, Mr. Vipin Srivastava [ the previously appointed VC in charge when Dr. Appa Rao was to proceed on long leave but who could not take charge since he did not enjoy the trust of the faculty and students and hence Prof. Periasamy had to take charge] was contacted he responded stating that he could not meet the FF team but only speak to them on the phone!
  •  The same was the result of the FF team’s effort to meet the Registrar and the Chief Security Officer, conveying clearly that all the senior functionaries of the HCU were in no mood to discuss the happenings in the HCU under any circumstances.
  •  This also explains why the FF team was not allowed by the HCU security officers who were manning the main gate of the university, to even enter the university campus.
  •  A sense of fear was amplified with the order passed by the office of the Registrar dated 23rd March preventing the entry of outside persons viz. print and electronic media and political, social and student groups/individuals into the campus – due to the prevailing extraordinary situation on the campus of the university.
  •  We are of the strong opinion that this was only an effort to try to keep the university as a closed ‘fortress’ with no external visitor allowed to meet the faculty or students on campus and see for themselves the place of occurrence of the campus violence let loose on the 22nd March, 2016.
  •  This further reveals that the officials of the University of Hyderabad had more to hide than reveal in the violence on its campus on 22nd March 2016.

The team was able to meet with representatives from the student community, faculty, the Police (the DCP K Kartikeyan, ACP and Inspector), the State Home Minister)

Key interim findings:

1. The Vice Chancellor Mr Appa Rao has a registered case pending against him under SC ST PoA Act 1989 in connection with the Rohith Vemula suicide. No action has been taken in this regard.
2. His unexpected re-entry into the campus was pre-planned with details chalked out with his supporter students and faculty, which triggered the escalation of violence.
3. What has been the role of the MHRD in his reinstatement and this process was not transparent
4. Interim situation: It was established that the University was working smoothly and with regularity in the interim phase, while Professor Periasamy was the Vice Chancellor. The routine at the University was maintained, including the proceedings within the University’s Academic Council. Students and Faculty have confirmed their satisfaction. Even during the indefinite leave of Mr Appa Rao, the students association, faculties and various political parties continue their struggle within the campus with various demands
5. It has also been observed that the Union Minister Shri Dattatrey and Shushil Kumar also have not been arrested after being booked for non-bailable offences. This inaction of the state, central government has contributed to this situation
6. Disruption of the Campus: The return of the Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao, who had proceeded on indefinite leave triggered the disruption of peace on campus. According to the Home Minister, VC Appa Rao expressed a desire to the Minister to return to the campus and was strongly advised against it by the Police Commissioner and the Home Minister, saying that it would cause disruption of University. In spite of the Home Ministry’s advice he chose to return to the university.
7. Police’s role: People arrested were not presented before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law.
8. Women students: Widespread assault of women students and abusive language and threats to rape the women students were heard from the police. Also targeted statements towards minority students and describing them as “terrorists” was also heard
9. The police could have given bail but the students and faculty were remanded in judicial custody

Recommendations:

The Fact Finding Team gives the following recommendations in restoring the normalcy and peace in the University:

1. In the best academic interest and in restoring a peaceful environment in University and in order to ensure a fair investigation is done, the FF Team recommends that the Vice Chancellor Mr Appa Rao must be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
2. Police need to step up their response in dealing with the cases filed (VC, and student arrests) with efficiency and due legal process both in the case of the VC and the arrested students.
3. Normalcy of the University must be restored immediately. Free mobility in and out of the University and this must be brought back to regular functioning. This is essential for the academic health of the University, which has suffered significantly.
4. Criminal investigation should be immediately conducted and action should be taken against the police who have wilfully neglected their duty under Section 4 of the SC ST PoA Amendment Act 2016.
5. Recommendation to the State Government should play a facilitating role in bringing back normalcy to the campus.
6. The Central Government must swiftly and efficiently ensure a smooth transition of the leadership of the University in the best interest of the primary objective of the University of Academic Excellence by replacing the Vice Chancellor in close consultation with the University students and Faculty.

Source: Round Table India – Interim Report of the Independent National Fact Finding Team on UoH

Why is Prof. K.Y.Ratnam being targetted?

Prof K.Y.Ratnam is the last person one expects to get arrested on charges of destruction of public property or provoking violence. So we were dismayed to find that he is one of the people arrested in UOH along with 27 young students and a faculty member in this week’s crackdown in the University.

But perhaps one should expect that he is on the watch-list of the current Vice Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile. In 2001, Prof Ratnam, then an assistant warden of hostels, was targeted by administrative humiliation, which led to student support and the rustication of eight dalit students from the university. The current vice chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile was then the chief warden of the hostels. He was the authority who handed out the humiliating posting to Ratnam. He has also been charged with pursuing the rustication of the nine dalit students. His antagonism with Ratnam therefore is well known.

Prof. Ratnam has been one among the SC/ST faculty who have extended whole hearted support to the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice in HCU formed after Rohith Vemula’s suicide two months ago. In the melee which led to his arrest, Ratnam was seen and heard pleading with the police not to be too harsh with the students. And this seems to be the ‘offence’ that he was arrested for. According to those who visited him in the Cherlapally prison he was beaten by the police in the van and in the police station too. And sustained injuries in his face.

Following his arrest he is likely to be suspended from the university. If this happens his course with 72 students is likely to remain unfinished. This would definitely trouble him, being the conscientious teacher that he is. He has had several dalit M Phil and PhD students successfully defend their work under his guidance over the past two decades. And his gentle and persuasive force towards rational thinking in the anti-caste struggles is too well known in the university and the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh too.

A few lines about his other academic credentials will not be out of place here. He started the Centre for Ambedkar Studies in the University of Hyderabad. And is the first teacher to take up Ambedkar’s writings in the curriculum and has taught the issue of caste and oppression in the department of political science. He has been part of a recent collective initiative that published a volume analyzing and criticizing the attempt by the RSS to appropriate the thought of Ambedkar.

Conscientiousness, academic credentials and political commitment seem to be the crimes for which Prof. Ratnam is being targetted by Prof. Appa Rao Podile’s administration. Fortunately they are not crimes in the Indian Penal Code.

Friends of Prof.K.Y.Ratnam
(R.Srivatsan, A.Suneetha, Gogu Shyamala and others)

 

Update from HCU, via Muhammed Afzal P and Navadeep Pannala, March 25, 10 pm

Via Navadeep Pannala

This is to inform you all that strong local support is building up in Hyderabad for the students and faculty of University of Hyderabad. Here are some of the details.
a) During the two day shut down of UOH by the administration, students and faculty of EFLU and others sent food to UOH. Lamakaan opened their canteen to the students. A few offered their homes to the students who may have wanted to leave the campus.
b) On the legal front, support has poured in from the faculty and students. The faculty have offered generous support to stand surety for their students. Also crowds of students and faculty are in the court to express solidarity.
A team of human rights lawyers, consisting of V. Raghunath, U.D.Bhim Rao, Md.Shakeel and Vasudha Nagaraj a coalition of civil liberties, dalit, minority and feminist lawyers is handling the bail petitions of the students and the faculty. The team went around the city to different police stations in search of the detained teachers and students on 23rd March. Not able to trace them, they decided to move a house motion at the residence of the Chief Justice of the AP HC but were asked to do so next morning. On 24th morning, learning that the arrested people were remanded to judicial custody in the midnight, they decided to move the bail petitions. Unfortunately the magistrate reserved the orders for Monday and we are keeping the fingers crossed.
As of now, money does not seem to be the problem.
c) Meanwhile the TRS government, probably in a move to save itself from the embarrassment has distanced itself from the police brutality and has termed the VC as an implant of the coastal Kamma lobby. So there is a rift in the existing ruling establishment.
CPI and the other left parties as well as the Telangana JAC members are trying to meet the ministers to appeal for the withdrawal of the police from the campuses. Local AAP and TISS, Hyderabad have moved State Human Rights Commission which summoned the VC on 26th March.
Human rights groups – HRF, CLC and CLMC have put out strong statements condemning police brutality on campus and have demanded that the cases be withdrawn.
d) HCU alumni has put out a strong letter in support of the students. People not only from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai but abroad are writing/calling/contacting many of us to know what support they can provide and what statements they can put out.
e) The local media especially the television channels are not covering the UOH happening much. When they do, the coverage is anti-student and pro university administration. Except the Hindu and the TOI, the newspapers are also not supportive.
f) Last but the most important, an independent Judicial Commission with retired judges is being planned to inquire into the happenings at UOH in the coming ten days.
From
concerned people!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/MohammedAfzalP/posts/1773746166180391

 

Eklavya speaks: Charan speaking after meeting students and teachers in jail

 

Zuhail K P, President of the HCU Students’ Union, speaks on the Telangana Police’s brutality against students and teachers at Hyderabad Central University

 

A Fig-leaf Called ‘Vandalism by UoH Students

Issued by SC and ST Faculty Forum and Concerned Teachers of University of Hyderabad

For the past three days the news media has been circulating widely, stories about ‘vandalism’ by students of the University of Hyderabad that led to the police crackdown. Surprisingly little information is actually there on the actual context, timing, duration and nature of the vandalism. It appears that the claim that a group of students indulged in acts of vandalism is enough to justify a full scale war on the entire campus community of over 5000 students.  Yet this charge of vandalism is no more than a fig leaf .

  •  Mera Name plate dekhega? Chal main tere ku sabak sikhata hoon! (You dare look at my         name badge? Let me teach you a lesson)
  • Naam kya hai tera? Acchaa tu Pakistani hai. Chal main tere ku sabak sikhata hoon! (What is your name? Oh, you are a Pakistani? Let me teach you a lesson)
  • Tu kahaan ki rehne wali hai? Itti kaali hai! Aa tere ku sabak sikhata hoon! (Where are you from? You are so dark. Let me teach you a lesson)
  • Kiskaa Fotu khenchraa re tu? Abhi bataata hoon tere ku! (Whose photo are you shooting? Let me show you …)

This was how the police read out the rights to the students and faculty member of University of Hyderabad as they were ‘arrested’ on March 22. Arrested from different places all over the campus much later in the day when most of them were nowhere near the lodge that morning.

Two teachers Prof. K Y Ratnam (Centre for Ambedkar Studies) and Dr. Tathagatha Sengupta (School of Mathematics and Statistics) known for their commitment to social justice were targeted, roughed-up, and arrested. Prof. Ratnam, who was in a selection committee meeting till 2pm and then came to the VC Lodge saw the police beating up the students sitting on the lawns and went to dissuade them was himself roughed up and thrown into the van. When a female faculty member rushed there to urge the policemen to stop beating up Prof. Ratnam, she was told that she was welcome to jump into the van. When a female student tried to intervene when a male student was being dragged into the van, she was told she would be raped. Thus began a three-track ordeal for the University of Hyderabad community.

Track I- Denial of food, water and basic amenities

Electricity, water, food and internet were all shut off for two days by the non-teaching staff who, according to the Vice-Chancellor, were on strike. 14 hostel messes were completely shut down affecting the 5000 odd students on campus. For 48 hours, volunteers from across the city were desperately trying to supply food and water to the students through the barricaded gates. Many students protected themselves from dehydration by drinking water from the bathrooms. On March 23 some students tried to cook food on the campus. They were stopped from doing so.  D. Udaya Bhanu, a research scholar, who was cooking for the starving students at the shopping complex was beaten up brutally despite him pleading that her was just recovering from a surgery. In fact, he was then hit at the spot of the surgery and on his head, and had to be rushed to a hospital in a critical condition. The police taunted him about his political views and activities on campus, and indicated that he was receiving his just desserts. A security officer of the university who was watching the events told the police personnel to beat the excess fat out of Uday. All this while the ‘nationalist’ students affiliated to ABVP were circling them on motor cycles shouting slogans cheering India’s win in a cricket match and taunting the others.

The University of Hyderabad campus could easily have been any of the police camps that dotted Telangana region in the 80s.  The younger generation of students who are not familiar with such images have been describing it as Jallianwala bagh, surrounded as they were, by armed, hostile men.

Track II – Seemingly random detentions

As of now, precise numbers of people arrested, detained, mentioned in FIRs are all up in the air. What we do know is that the bail orders for 27 persons are reserved till Monday (March 28) 3pm in the Miyapur court.  We are told that several other FIRs against many more students have been filed. These are all supposed to be based on video and photo evidence—the Vice-Chancellor announced graciously in a faculty meeting that those against whom there is no evidence will be let off.  The atmosphere on campus is one of trepidation and uncertainty, with students being arrested at whim and moved from one police station to another, and with information being deliberately withheld. While the Cyberabad Metropolitan Police’s website puts up all FIRs relating to gendered offences including (often) sensitive data regularly, it does not upload the FIRs for the offences that the students are being charged under. The only option left for family of those who are possibly accused to get hold of the FIRs in question, is to get a court order requiring the FIRs to be made available; a tall task, given the intervening holidays.

Track III – Denial of civil rights

Long after the said incident of vandalism, which resulted in some damage to furniture in the building, a large number of students arrived on the lawns of the lodge in a state of shock and dismay, questioning the sudden and surreptitious return of a Vice-Chancellor who had not been cleared of any of the serious charges levelled against him.  These students were evicted from the lawns by around 5pm and soon after that the crackdown began. It was as if the police were not looking for the vandals, but for those who could be potentially accused of vandalism and beaten up with impunity.  If the comments from the police addressed to the detainees as cited above indicate that anything from tone of your skin, the way your name sounds, the way you look at the policeman, the way you plead on behalf of the students, your political views, your personal history, any of these could mark you,  look at what the relatives of the detainees were treated to later on.

  • Why does your husband instigate students to take positions against government? Why doesn’t he just do his job and teach in the classroom?
  • Do you know that your daughter does not study? She is too politically active.

And here is a sample of what the detainees were told in the jail.

  • If you refuse to eat food in the jail, we have videos of you eating in the police custody. We will release those and tell people that you are lying about the quality of food in the jail.

The story of impunity is not complete without going briefly over the manner in which the students were produced before the magistrate. The detainees were hauled into police vans and severely beaten. They were taken to undisclosed locations. Faculty spoke to the ACP, who assured them that the detention was only until things calmed down in the University and that no charges would be filed. On March 23, 2016, members of the University’s faculty visited the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate, but were unable to meet the concerned officials on account of it being a holiday. From there, they went to the Miyapur Police Station where they found 18 of the detained persons were being held. However, they were told that the police personnel had no idea where the rest of the detainees were being held; they claimed to have no knowledge of the situation, saying that the University was outside of the Police Station’s jurisdiction, and the 18 were being held there only on account of space constraints elsewhere. Here too, they were told that the detainees would be released from custody by 3pm, and that no charges were going to be filed. It was discovered later, when friends of the detainees sought to visit them, that they had been moved again to an undisclosed location, before 2pm.

Acting on some vague information they received, the faculty then headed to Narsingi Police Station where they were told that no students had been brought there at any point of time. However, testimonies indicate that students were first taken there initially and then shifted out. They went to Raidurgam Police Station, and then to Gachibowli Police Station, where police personnel insisted that they had no information regarding the detainees. The detainees’ lawyers too ran from one Police Station to the next without being given any information regarding their whereabouts.

In the meantime, information was received that the detainees would be produced before the Miyapur Court at 5pm. The faculty and team of lawyers went there and waited but found no sign of them. Then they were told that the detainees would be produced before the Magistrate at her residence; at the same time, a ticker tape on television proclaimed that the detainees had been produced before a Magistrate and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days. Later it was discovered that they had in fact been produced before the Magistrate in a clandestine fashion only at about 11pm, in contravention of the Constitutional requirement to produce arrested persons within 24 hours, and then sent to Cherlapally Central Jail.

The team of lawyers tried to move a House Motion in the High Court, unsuccessfully. Several students, faculty and lawyers sought to meet the Chief Justice of the High Court, but just two lawyers were permitted inside the premises and they too were only able to meet the Justice’s Personal Secretary.

Taking note of the situation on campus, a group of lawyers from Bombay offered their pro bono services to the students. They arrived in the morning on March 24, but were denied permission to enter the University premises by the campus security. The students whom they were due to meet argued that they had a right to consult counsel and that there is no mentioned restriction against the entry of lawyers, but were told that they had been ordered to bar ‘outsiders’ from entering. They were asked to seek permission from the Vice-Chancellor—the very person against whom the students were protesting and the person who sought that charges be brought against them—if they wished to take the lawyers inside. Members from civil rights organisations who wanted to visit the campus having taken note of the situation there were not allowed inside. The Dalit Human Rights Commission too was barred from entering the University. Faculty members attempted to reason with the campus security on the grounds that other ‘outsiders’ (those favoured by the administration) had been permitted inside, to no avail. Evidently, the term ‘outsider’ had been defined to mean any person who sought to speak with the students on campus. Both the students and the faculty demanded that the denial of permission to enter be put in writing, but the campus security refused. Most importantly, through the entire period, the media has been barred from entering the campus.

A bail petition for 24 students and 2 faculty members and a video journalist was moved in the Miyapur court on March 24, but was hotly contested by the prosecution, which sought till March 28 to make counter arguments. The State Human Rights Commission has taken cognisance of a complaint in relation to the events unfolding at the University of Hyderabad, and scheduled a hearing for March 26, where the Vice-Chancellor is required to report on the case filed. The word on the block is that the official narrative has been tailored to make the entire lockdown of the campus and the stoppage of essential amenities on campus seem like a skirmish between the students and the non-teaching staff: a patently false claim, by all accounts.

Clearly, the war on the campus community is not simply about vandalism or about a disagreement between students and non-teaching staff.

  • A small number of students and faculty have been targeted and persecuted for their political views and sympathies.
  • A much larger number (almost entirely Dalit and Muslims) have been simply profiled by their names, appearances and identities.
  • The entire campus community has been subjected to collective punishment and the larger civil society in the city and in the country has been disallowed from reaching out any kind of support—even the basic humanitarian support of food and water.
  • Students and faculty and their families have been denied basic civil rights. That the non-teaching staff were co-opted into this is more than evident by the circumstances in which they went on a protest.

What is the justification for this war on students and sympathetic faculty?

The story that has been doing the rounds until now in media and among the faculty is that the students indulged in vandalism at the VC Lodge. The said incident of vandalism was supposed to have happened between 9:30 am and 10:30 am.  At the time when students supporting the Joint Action Committee arrived in the morning at the VC’s Lodge to protest against Prof. Appa Rao taking charge, there were members of the ABVP, apart from chosen faculty members, Deans of different schools, students largely from School of Life Sciences, already inside. Some non-JAC students inside are said to have been shouting slogans. It is understood that was a scuffle and some damage to property. Only one section of students is being held responsible for the incident. The University Administration justifies the arrests and beating up of students as a crack-down on vandals. It disassociates itself from the denial of food and water and other services to the students by projecting this as a conflict between the students and non-teaching staff over which the administration had no control. Indeed, the administration believes that it has no culpability in what happened on campus.

Politically motivated and fully scripted:

It is important to understand the broader context and timing of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao’s return to the campus. Social media commentaries point towards the caste nexus between Appa Rao and the Union Urban Development Minister and thus to the broader political nexus between the university administration and the BJP.  Whatever the truth of these commentaries, they are not adequate to explain the viciousness of the attack on the campus community and the larger goal of political isolation.

Appa Rao has taken extreme pains to deny any involvement of the Union Human Resources Development Ministry in the course of events on UoH campus. But that would then mean that the administration is directly accountable for the suicide of Rohith Vemula.  As a matter of fact, the first thing that the MHRD delegation of officials secured in February was a statement from the Vice-Chancellor’s office that they were not influenced in any way by the routine communications from the Ministry regarding ‘anti nationals’. The administration then must explain how it allowed the situation to slide into such a disaster, ending in Rohith’s suicide.

Even as the government appointed a judicial enquiry, the Vice-Chancellor went on leave. The next senior most professor to take charge as Vice-Chancellor, who holds a press conference to announce that he has everything under control, was forced to leave in a jiffy. The next in line—Professor Periaswamy—managed to steer the campus to the end of the semester so that the academic work could carry on even as the larger demands for justice in the instance of Rohith Vemula and other students continues.

This is the point at which when the issue of institutional accountability is yet to be settled, when the campus was hobbling towards the end of the semester, that Appa Rao returns to the campus. And he returns to the campus with a triumphant stance of a hero returning home – one day before there is news that Kanhaiya Kumar is visiting Hyderabad and may visit the campus. The acting Vice-Chancellor is informed about this by subordinate staff. Appa Rao is garlanded and welcomed and cheered by a large number of faculty and students. This, when senior police officials have reportedly advised him not to go to the campus yet to resume office. Students affiliated to the ABVP were present in the lodge and on the terrace with video cameras.

It was an incitement to a skirmish.  frustrated with the unrepentant, unconciliatory and authoritarian attitude of the administration took the invitation at its face value and walked into the trap.

Did a group of students barge into the Vice-Chancellor’s lodge? They may have. Did they break furniture and ransack the front office? They may have. Did the broader campus community camp out in front of the VC Lodge protesting? Yes. Was there a murderous mob occupying the lawns from 11 and could only have been disciplined by unleashing this violence ? Most certainly not!

The return of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao to the campus, that seemed so ill-advised at first, seems now, in light of what happened over this entire week, like a fully scripted war—a war to mete out collective punishment, to target individual faculty members and students, to threaten families of students. And a mechanism to detrack the process of bringing institutional accountability on questions of casteism on campus and the tragic loss of life that resulted from it.

The Vice-Chancellor has also claimed that he has a large support from faculty and students that that those dissenting are in a very small number. Let us note that of the nearly 450 faculty members, only a little more than 100 faculty members attended the meeting which the Vice-Chancellor called. As far as student support is concerned, it is well-known that except the ABVP, the rest of students and organisations on campus stood and continue standing for Justice for Rohith Vemula.

Let us recall the extraordinary institutional violence including administrative lapses that led to the suspension of five Dalit students and the consequent death of Rohith Vemula. One must appreciate the immense maturity and patience of students in the past three months in carrying out their struggle for justice in the most peaceful and democratic manner under utter tremendous pressure. To forget all this and to unilaterally implicate our struggling students in the incidents on the morning of March 22 amounts to devaluing the life and death of Rohith Vemula. Are we equating some broken furniture to the loss of a precious life?

The events of the last few days in the University of Hyderabad are a wake up call to the entire academic community.  It is not the protesting students, often from historically oppressed and marginalised communities, that are the cause of the trouble on campuses. This is a well orchestrated political programme with the full support of the police and other armed forces to silence dissent, crush the liberal democratic potentials of university campuses.

Vandalism by students is only the fig leaf.

Source: http://kafila.org/2016/03/25/a-fig-leaf-called-vandalism-by-uoh-students-sc-and-st-faculty-forum-and-concerned-teachers-of-university-of-hyderabad/

Statement by Concerned Faculty from The English and Foreign Languages University on the Police Crackdown at HCU

We, the concerned faculty from The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, strongly condemn the police brutality at the University of Hyderabad on 22nd March 2016, after the return of Prof. Appa Rao Podile, the Vice-Chancellor accused of abetting the suicide of the Dalit Research Scholar Rohith Vemula. As an academic community, we are extremely disturbed by the excessive interference of the state machinery, administrative conspiracies, the abuse of power and systemic oppression that prevail in many of the universities in India of late. A university should be a just and egalitarian space. But the suicides of Dalit students with the recent case of Rohith Vemula lay bare systemic structures of oppression and institutional legitimization of caste violence existing within Indian universities. Our university spaces need serious re-vamping to ensure equal opportunity, social justice and critical discourses.

The social boycott of Rohith Vemula and four more research scholars and the events that followed show the alarming failure of the system to cater to the demands of a diverse student population. The suicide of Rohith Vemula, a promising student with the vision of a philosopher, triggered nation-wide protests and demands for the removal of Prof. Appa Rao from the Vice-Chancellor’s post. A non-bailable FIR under the SC/ST Atrocities Act for abetting Rohith Vemula’s suicide was filed against Prof. Appa Rao Podile and he conveniently went on leave. Now, without any clearing of the charges registered against him under and a pending judicial inquiry to determine accountability, the VC resumed office on 22 March 2016. A letter is available in the public domain submitted by the Faculty of HCU to the President of India, asking that Appa Rao be removed from the office of the Vice Chancellor as he has lost all administrative and academic credibility to hold the office. The MHRD panel found the UoH administration had failed to handle the vulnerable situation at HCU following Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Given the situation, Appa Rao’s continuation in the VC’S office would mean tampering with evidence. When students had gathered to protest against Appa Rao’s return, the full might of police violence and RAF battalions was unleashed on students and the faculty of the university. This clearly reveals the illegitimate tie up between the state and an administration that faces legal charges.

We strongly condemn the brutal violence unleashed by police on HCU campus on 22nd March, with the alleged support of the administration, on peacefully protesting students. When faculty members tried to protect students, they too were manhandled and arrested. We also unequivocally denounce the turmoil that prevailed in the university the subsequent days with electricity, water and internet-cut off, the 14 hostel messes closed and ATM cards of the students blocked. Police are also said to have beaten up students who were cooking for the community. We have also learnt that another set of FIRs have been registered against a new set of students, including 5 women. Videos of police brutality against the women students are also circulating across social media, with women recollecting how the police threatened them with rape, touched them inappropriately and grabbed and kicked their private parts. We have also been told of students being beaten up and tortured not just in the police van to the station, but in fact at every police station and during every transit. All this reflects the utter failure of the university administration and the grave issues of human rights violations. Students were stranded inside a university campus from where media, public and any kind of outside intervention were blocked by the police at the behest of the university administration.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to the student communities and general public who delivered food and water for the suffering and stranded students at the gate of Hyderabad Central University, and expressed willingness to offer accommodation and support to the HCU students. We express our whole-hearted solidarity to the movement at HCU for a just and egalitarian university as much as we express our solidarity to similar movements in the universities nation-wide. We demand the immediate withdrawal of the cases charged against the 27 members of the HCU community arrested including two faculty members and request the immediate attention of human rights and civil liberties agencies, media and the public into the grave violations. We demand the state withdraw police from the campus and also ensure a fair enquiry into the state of affairs at HCU. We the undersigned Faculty, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, express our solidarity and unity with friends and fellow teachers and extend our whole-hearted support to the student movement at the University of Hyderabad
Dr. A. Hari Prasad
Dr. Asma Rasheed
Dr. B. Venkat Rao
Dr. Hrishikesh Ingle
Dr. Indranil Dutta
Prof. K. Satyanarayana
Prof. M. Madhava Prasad
Ms. Madhumeeta Sinha
Prof. Maya Pandit
Dr. Nikhila H
Mr. Parthasarathi M.
Dr. Raju Nayak
Dr. Ranjith T.
Prof. Satish Poduval
Dr. Sherin B.S.
Dr. Shyam Babu
Dr. Srivani T.
Prof. Susie Tharu (retd.)
Dr. Tharakeshwar V.B.
Dr. Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda
Dr. Venkatesh Nayak

Source: http://kafila.org/2016/03/26/statement-by-concerned-faculty-from-the-english-and-foreign-languages-university-on-the-police-crackdown-at-hcu/

Hari Krishnan M S, March 25, 10.45 PM

This is that darkest time, when songs are heard behind the bars of central jail,songs sung by 25 students of HCU along with 2 professors.2 days ago we spectated the draconian state police repression on students of university who were asking justice for Rohith. Police under the order given by Appa Rao, dragged these fighting students to the police van.After the incident police was giving threats to the arrested students also harrasing the faculties in the van. Finally after a long murky episode of police handling they were taken to the district magistrate’s court at 11 o clock in the night next day, where they were remanded.After a long moment of grief and anguish we met the arrested students and faculties today in jail. The fire in their eyes and the rigour in their voices ignited us in seconds. All of them after this much torture and tension are still in much courage to face the state repression at any extent. Inside the police van Prof. Ratnam was brutally tortured and students who started to resist were assaulted along with Sir. While students were tortured police termed them as ‘anti national’,girls of this campus were compared with prostitutes. The students with long hair and beard had to fight more since moral policing along with beating took place. But they are more lively than all of us with a dream that campus will be the place where we are not faced with incidents like 17th January. All of them stood together behind the bars with eyes of hope towards their beloved campus and firmly said to us, go ahead for justice, there are just few steps to get victory. Revolutionary greetings to all the arrested comrades and we will fight until they get bail. We shall fight and we shall win.

Source:

https://www.facebook.com/hari.krishnanms.7/posts/1049230551804514?pnref=story