This is a statement of March 29, 2016 from students, faculty and affiliates of Columbia University. We publish it below with apologies for the delay.
We, students, faculty and affiliates of Columbia University, strongly condemn the violation and atrocities brought upon the students and faculty of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on March 22, 2016. Since Professor Appa Rao Podile was on leave and under investigation for the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, his return to the campus to resume duties as the Vice Chancellor was unacceptable. The students justifiably organized a peaceful protest in the campus that day. The institutional responses to that, by the University authorities, the Andhra and Telangana police force, Rapid Action Force personnel, the media, and the members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on campus, were outrageous, inhuman, and fascist. The University authorities, instructed by Prof Podile, shut down the Internet connection, dining hall and drinking water facilities in retaliation to the peaceful student protest. The Andhra and Telangana police force lathi-charged students and faculty, violently beat up and severely injured them, molested and threatened to rape female students, targeted Muslims and Dalits, abused them verbally, and eventually arrested 24 students and 3 faculty. The ABVP members resorted to violence and aggressive sloganeering from the very beginning of the students’ peaceful protest and also attacked and injured them. The mainstream media has been ignoring these atrocious events at a Central university campus and has decidedly turned away from its responsibility and its accountability to the public. This is ironic, at the very least, when some of the news anchors just last month were so focused on fabricating stories of “terrorist” and “anti-national” activities at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. The media ultimately failed to demonize the students then. Now, yet again, the media is unabashedly siding with the authoritarian regime of corporate and state power; this time by ignoring the brutality of the police and the HCU authorities.
We strongly condemn
– the fascist abuse of power by the University authorities, who decided to deprive the students of basic facilities as ‘revenge’ for the peaceful demonstration
– the violence, the targeting and the brutality of the police force
– the irresponsibility of the media for not reporting this on prime time and for effectively siding with the tyrannical regime in power
– the atrocities unleashed by the casteist, capitalist, Hindu fundamentalist government and its affiliates, especially ABVP.