War on students and faculty in India–continued


A Fig-leaf Called ‘Vandalism by UoH Students: 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.

For full article: 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/

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