Hyderabad University: ‘Locked’ inside campus for days, students cry for help

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah
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Hyderabad, April 3: Perhaps for the first time in the history of independent India, students of a university are "locked" inside their campus, being denied contact with the outside world.

As the administration of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) continues to impose a blockade on the campus, students have invited members of the civil society to join their struggle on the university premises on April 6.

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The social media connect

Since the students have very little access with the outside world, with the main gate of the university being locked and guarded by police personnel, students are interacting with the rest of society with the help of various social media platforms.

The press release posted on the Facebook account of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, (UoH), stated the students are hosting a protest rally--Chalo Hyderabad Central University (HCU)--against the blockade imposed on the campus on April 6.

The members of JAC are spearheading the movement for justice for Rohith Vemula, after the 26-year-old Dalit research scholar committed suicide on the campus on January 17.

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"This is an appeal to all the students, political organisations and people to come to UoH on April 6 to register your protest against the ongoing injustice meted out to Rohith and students of the university. Since the university administration has imposed a blockade on the campus preventing the students from having any contact with the outside world, Chalo HCU call is also against the imposed blockade on the university," stated the press release.

Return of power and the ensuing protests

The normal functioning of the university came to a halt on March 22, when the vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile, an accused in the suicide of Rohith, resumed charge on the campus.

The students protested against Podile's return to the campus. As a part of the protest, students were also accused of restoring to vandalism.

However, students alleged that police brutally attacked them, who were registering their protest in a non-violent manner.

The matter became worse after police arrested a group of 25 students and two faculty members and kept them locked in a police station, denying them bail for several days.

At the same time, the university administration imposed a blockade by deploying police inside the campus and denying free movement of the students.

"Since the return of Podile, the campus is in a state of emergency. Students have been assaulted, deprived of food, water, legal aid, medical aid, cut-off from the outside world and also put in jail and slapped with false cases. In this state of emergency, students feel extremely threatened and have been demanding the removal of vice-chancellor from the university premises and his immediate arrest," stated the press release.

"Podile has resumed his charge without getting any bail or legal relief. He had applied for bail six times and every time it was cancelled. His presence on the campus can be questioned legally. The police should arrest him as he is booked under SC/ST prevention of atrocities act. He is also one of the main accused in Rohith's suicide case," added the press release.

The press release says the students are seeking response from the administration on three main accounts-the filing and withdrawal of cases against students and faculty members, the blockade imposed on the campus by closing of the main gate and plans to deploy CISF personnel on the campus.

"The recent meeting with the registrar only reaffirms our doubt that the administration is in collusion with Podile, police and BJP. Together they're going to take anti-student decisions. The students do not recognise Podile as their VC and will continue their protest demanding his removal and arrest," added the press release.

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