The brutal police assault on students of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), which has clearly taken place with the blessings of University authorities, is an unprecedented attack on the student community in India. Starting with last years de-recognition of the APSC in IIT-Madras, to the events at FTII Pune, on to the suspension of students at the University of Madras for protesting against TASMAC, to the suspension of 5 Dalit research scholars belonging to UoH, to the arrests of students at JNU on charges of sedition, to this assault and arrest of students at UoH, clearly demonstrates the increasing intensity with which liberal and democratic spaces inside campuses are shrinking, due chiefly to Hindutva forces.
The students in question were peacefully protesting against the return of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile who, according to the student community at UoH, was one of the key persons responsible for Rohith Vemula’s suicide, an event that since then been termed by some as an ‘institutional killing’. During this period, no action was taken against any University officials for Rohith’s death. The manner in which students and members of the faculty were assaulted — with female students being groped by male police personnel as well! — all the while facing accusations of being an “anti-national”, is probably a new low for the Hyderabad police force.
Recent events have made clear that dissent of any sort on campuses, especially the sort that questions structures of power and the Hindutva ideology, will be suppressed in the most brutal manner possible. We find it especially shocking that sections of the media have chosen to compromise on foundational principles of journalistic ethics and, as they did in the JNU case, have resorted to reporting unverified facts like “the protesters vandalized the Vice Chancellor’s office”. These unverified reports are intended, we assume, to some how justify the violent police action.
In addition to the assault on members of UoH, the attempt to turn the campus into a prison yard by blocking water and food supplies as well as the alleged blocking of debit cards is a worrisome development. It should serve as a warning to all students and members of faculty across the country: if they are to fight to preserve liberal democratic spaces on campuses, these are the challenges they will face.
Academics For Democracy condemns this whole episode in strongest possible terms and demands further that:
- All arrested protesters be released,
- Action is taken against the police personnel who assaulted the protesters in the campus as well as in police vans, and
- Appa Rao Podile be removed from his post as Vice Chancellor.
List of Signatories
V.S. Sunder, Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSC), Faculty
Arnab Priya Saha, IMSc, PhD student
Suratno Basu, Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), PhD student
Nirmalya Kajuri, IIT Chennai, Postdoctoral fellow
Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social activist, Chennai.
Sushmita Venugopalan , CMI, Visiting faculty
Aiyalam Balachandran, Emeritus Professor, Syracuse University, USA.
Rahul SIddharthan, IMSc, Faculty
- Vijaybaskar , Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Faculty,
Sudhir Chella Rajan , IIT Madras, Faculty.
Mangai, Theatre Artist, Chennai.
Prathamesh, Postdoc, Institute of Mathematical Sciences,
Alok Laddha, CMI, Faculty
S Sundar , CMI, Faculty
Venkat T, Madras Institute of Development Studies, PhD candidate
Varuni Prabhakar, IMSc, Postdoctoral fellow
Rupam Karmakar, IMSc, PhD Student
Uday Raj , Madras Christian college (MCC), Faculty
Madhumitta Dutta , PhD Candidate, University of Durham, UK
Abdul Rahiman , Madras University, faculty
Ramu Manivannan , Madras university, faculty
Kaushik Tekur , MCC, Masters students
Tuhin Mukherjee, IMSc, PhD candidate
Shreela Manohar : Ambedkar Law school, student
Shiva Shankar , CMI, faculty
Sujay Ashok , IMSc, Faculty
Madhusudan Raman , IMSc, PhD student
Vijay Ravikumar , CMI, Faculty
Dhriti Ranjan Dolai, CMI, Visiting faculty.
Karen Coehlo, MIDS, faculty.