A Suneetha, The Citizen Bureau, Kalpana Kannabiran, Preethi Raghunath.
A. SUNEETHA, Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad:
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 our 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CLC and CLMC have put out strong statements condemning police brutality on campus and have demanded that the cases be withdrawn.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.
THE CITIZEN BUREAU on March 25, 2016
The situation at the Hyderabad Central University remains tense, as although food and water supplies have been restored, the arrested students and staff are still languishing in jail — with their bail plea pushed to Monday.
In the following video, the students’ lawyer explains the details of the case against them. He says that there are three FIRs against the students — two by the police, and one by the UoH administration. The police have revived an FIR that was filed on the night of the death of Rohith Vemula.
In the first FIR there are 30 students and two faculty members who are accused. In the second FIR there are 45 accused. In total there are 27 people who were detained. The rule, explains the defence lawyer, if you are detained by the police, then within 24 hours of detention — the police has to produce you before a magistrate. This did not happen, says the lawyer. When 27 people were produced, late at night, the magistrate sent them to jail custody for 14 days…
Owing to a mainstream media blackout, the events of March 22 and 23, when several students were brutally thrashed by the state police, remain underreported. Over 44 students were treated for injuries caused by police lathis — including fractures and head injuries — at the University health centre. Several other students were admitted in hospitals across Hyderabad. PhD scholar Uday Bhanu who was reportedly attacked by the the police for cooking food for students on campus was admitted unconscious into ICU.
Urgent Notes from a University in Crisis by KALPANA KANNABIRAN in The Wire on March 24, 2016.
The first we saw of this was television news reports of brutal handling of students and the few teachers with them by lathi wielding police. After this there was just a repetition of this footage, and news that close to 30 students and three faculty members had been taken into custody. Drs Tathagatha Sengupta and K.Y. Ratnam were among those arrested. There were several eyewitness accounts of police beating up Dr. Ratnam even while he was trying to intervene and salvage a bad situation…
When the arrests were made I had assumed (rather naively, I must say) that all of them would be released after a few hours in custody. When they had been in for a night with no release in sight, I made contact with Karthik Bittu, a teacher there who was keeping close track of the arrested students and faculty. I sent a lawyer to Miyapur Police Station on March 23 to find out what was happening. From his and other accounts, the version I got was that there was no information on what the police’s next move was going to be and each one who asked got a different story of what was to happen. It was close to 5 pm, there were many lawyers and students waiting at the police station. When nothing seemed to move, I called Bittu again around 5 pm, and heard that they were planning to meet the chief justice. In the meanwhile, around 7 pm, my lawyer friend messaged me that the reason why the detainees were not being produced was that the remand case diaries were not ready. It was over 24 hours since the arrests had been made. So I messaged Bittu immediately conveying this information and suggesting that the team meeting the CJ bring this to his notice and demand immediate release. I do not know if they met him.
Delhi Media, Why The Silence On UoH? PREETI RAGHUNATH in Countercurrents on March 25, 2016
I am only voicing the concerns of many students at the University of Hyderabad (UoH/HCU). This is a delayed reaction since I did feel that perhaps we would eventually get media coverage that is worthy of the kind of situation that HCU is in. I did feel that this was a momentary lapse on the part of the otherwise Breaking-News-hungry news channels. I understand that orders prohibiting media entry into the university premises (or ‘campus’ as we so fondly call it) have been put up. However, we fail to understand what stops the media from covering/engaging with civil liberties groups and following up on developments on the legal recourse front, even as faculty, lawyers and others concerned are battling it out on our behalf?In fact, students and friends in the city of Hyderabad and other parts of the country are having to field questions about the authenticity of attacks on so many students! They do not believe it is for real! If people have to only go by the 11 words that Facebook puts up as trending news and the slant that it gives, I feel sorry for them.
This is when we look to the media in Delhi to dispel myths, rumours and provide balanced coverage for the country to read/watch, taking into account all sides of the story. We do not even expect them to approach the story in a proactive manner on behalf of unarmed students having to deal with CRPF and Rapid Action Forces on campus.