Tag Archives: #StandwithRohithVemula

Rise in Rage – Message of Solidarity for HCU Students: Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid

Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid

“We dissent, therefore we are”
The times we are living in are audacious. As the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces in collaboration with big corporates are attempting to browbeat (or even just beat) us into silence, what better time than today to be audacious, to show our audacity. And that is precisely what Rohith Vemula did, both in his life as well as in his death. He dared to dissent against the brahmanical and communal structures of discrimination and oppression. He posed a graver “national security threat” because he was not just speaking up against the oppression against the Dalits, but also tried to build solidarities with other oppressed communities – the Muslims and other minorities. 
Of course, this invited the wrath of the powers that be – of Manu-Smriti Irani, of Bandaru Dattatreya, of the puppet VC Appa Rao and the puppeteer – the RSS. This earned him the epithet of “anti-national” as he was murdered institutionally by the communal-casteist apparatus of the state. The motive of the state was to “teach him a lesson” and “teach a lesson” to all those voices who dared to be audacious. But in vain. Rohith’s murder sparked a fire that spread across the country – across universities – demanding justice for Rohith. The need was felt by the RSS/BJP to “teach a lesson” yet again. In JNU the attack came in the form of the facile “national/anti-national” debate. When this was thwarted, in HCU it came in the form of the re-installation of the puppet VC Appa Rao.

This, of course, was an insult to the cause of justice for Rohith. It was an affront to the very idea of social justice. And it was a direct challenge to all democratic voices in the country. This outrage, this indignation could not have been taken lying low. The students in HCU yet again showed their audacity as they rose in rage against the re-installation of a killer VC. And this was met with a brutal lathi-charge by the Telangana Police, a fascist witch-hunt of student activists and teachers, their arrest on bogus charges, suspension of mess-water-electricity-internet and other facilities. The university has been turned into a war-zone.

Today universities and educational institutions across the country are being turned into war-zones and prison houses. It’s a shame today that heads of institutions and VCs – whether in FTII or HCU – are being escorted into their own campuses under police protection. On the one hand the institutionalized discrimination against Dalits and other oppressed castes is either forcing students to drop-out or hang themselves thereby necessitating the incessant demand for a Rohith Act. While on the other hand, through a concerted effort the state is imposing the brahmanical Hindutva fascist agenda of the RSS in course-curriculum. On the one hand, the state is pursuing a policy of massive fund cuts, fee-hikes or privatization so as to make higher education unaffordable for a large section – particularly the oppressed caste/class. On the other hand, to achieve the same, the ruling classes have been preparing to quell all possible resistance to the above through depoliticizing campus-spaces and curbing any and every voices of dissent. Such are the diktats, the exigencies of the insatiable thirst of global capital for profit in its bid to overcome the inherent crisis. While such anti-student pro-privatization policies were set in motion by the erstwhile Congress governments with all earnest, under the present regime, further velocity and teeth has been added to the same. The tightening tentacles of fascism in the country with RSS at its helm has only meant further witch-hunt, increasing militarization, casteist targeting, and shrinking of democratic space for debate and dissent in campuses.  

But, much to the irritation of those in Nagpur, the more vicious has been the assault, the more spectacular has been the resistance. From being against the bogey of Love Jihad to being for Kiss of Love, from being against Ghar Wapsi to calling the bluff on Swacch Bharat, from being against Dadri killing to exposing the farce of Make in India, from Hokkolorob to Pinjatod, from FTII to IIT-Madras, from Allahabad to Calicut, from Occupy UGC to Justice for Rohith, from Stand with JNU to Stand with HCU – there is a students’ spring today that swells across the country. We the students, today, are the opposition. And it is this strength that was exhibited in the streets of Delhi when Justice for Rohith and Stand with JNU merged into a sea of resistance.

If we look back in history, at times when the ruling classes has intensified its assault upon the people across the world, it is the students who have taken up a vital share of responsibility to speak up, to dissent. And more often than not we have seen various such youth and student movements talking to each other, drawing from each other, inspiring each other and thereby strengthening each other. The Black Panther movement influenced the Dalit Panthers. The struggle in Vietnam triggered massive anti-war demonstrations across the universities in America. The students of France 68 inspired millions of students across Europe and the world. The Cultural Revolution led by students in Maoist China inspired millions including the students during the Naxalbari movement which in turn inspired thousands across the subcontinent. Similarly it is important today that the movements whether of the Dalits, the women, the minorities, the LGBTIQ community, the workers, the peasants – should all speak to each other and gain strength from each other. At a time of ascendant fascism, it is imperative that we build solidarities forged in struggles. Because, even today if we remain divided into red, blue and green and so on, even if today we remain divided in HCU and JNU – fascism will ensure that tomorrow none survives. Maintaining our ideological differences – our colours, sharpening our tools of criticism and self-criticism, we must shun the path of sectarianism and build genuine unity of the oppressed against the combined assault of the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces and the forces of big capital. 

The attack today is relentless. So has to be the resistance. The bail orders for a few individuals in a campus can be a small battle won, but the war is far from over and there can be no respite today. We are confronting fascism today; it is a difficult fight, and no one ever said it would be easy. Let us fight for the release of the students and teachers put behind bars in Hyderabad and in the process let us intensify the struggle to oust Appa Rao, to seek justice for Rohith, to challenge the brahmanical fascist forces and their tightening noose.

Rise in Rage against the reinstallation of Appa Rao, the killer of Rohith Vemula as VC in HCU.

Condemn the brutal crackdown and arrests of students and teachers by Telangana Police.
Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid are both students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi

JNU Students in Solidarity with Students in Hyderabad

Students across universities in India are standing together against the extraordinary assaults unleashed on them by the Modi regime. Students in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi have been having regular meetings, ever since 22nd March on the situation in Hyderabad. There have also been marches in Kolkata and meetings in TISS, Mumbai. Reports are just coming in of a police lathi (cane) charge on left youth and student activists in Mumbai. Again, the mainstream media is NOT reporting the fact that young people are being attacked and that seventeen of them have detained by the police in Mumbai for coming out in support of the students in Hyderabad. Kafila welcomes accounts from the participants of these gatherings, so that the students in Hyderabad get to know that they are not alone.

Profile Picture graphic of the 'Stand With JNU' Facebook Page that inserts the JNU Logo on to the UoH (University of Hyderabad) Acronym.
Profile Picture graphic of the ‘Stand With JNU’ Facebook Page that inserts the JNU Logo on to the UoH (University of Hyderabad) Acronym.

Some JNU students also took out a  protest march to the Ministry of Human Resources Development to register their strong protest against the police action in Hyderabad University on the 23rd of March. A big march is being planned in Delhi soon, which will have participation of many student organizations cutting across different universities in Delhi.

Call from BAPSA-JNU for solidarity march with Hyderabad Students on the 'Stand with JNU' Facebook Page
Call from BAPSA and JNUSU for solidarity march with Hyderabad Students on the ‘Stand with JNU’ Facebook Page

One effect of the media blackout on the Hyderabad situation is a silencing of the different voices of support and solidarity for the Hyderabad students from their comrades in Delhi, especially from JNU and other places. This is a tactic of the regime to make students in Hyderabad think that their struggle is not being supported and echoed in other places, such as in JNU, and in Delhi generally.

This is totally untrue. This is moment for even greater co-ordination and solidarity. Do not let yourself be distracted by those who want to divide the student movement at this critical juncture.

Watch the videos below, they have statements by Rama Naga, General Secretary of JNUSU, Anirban Bhattacharya (who was recently released from police custody together with Umar Khalid) and Shehla Rashid, vice president of JNUSU.

Thanks to the ‘We are JNU’ youtube channel and the ‘Stand with JNU’ Facebook page for the videos.

Academics for Democracy: Statement in Solidarity with Students of Hyderabad Central University

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:

  1. All arrested protesters be released,
  2. Action is taken against the police personnel who assaulted the protesters in the campus as well as in police vans, and
  3. 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

Continue reading Academics for Democracy: Statement in Solidarity with Students of Hyderabad Central University

Statement in Solidarity with the ongoing movement at University of Hyderabad

  1. We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn police action in and around University of Hyderabad, from the 22 of March onwards. We criticize extreme police brutality, lathi charge, threats of rape and verbal abuse done to the students and faculty members of UoH.
  2. We demand to know the whereabouts of the faculty members and students who were made to disappear on the 22nd March. We condemn the false charges under which they are rumoured to have been booked. We condemn the police attack on students preparing food, the detaining of students for ‘cooking in a public space’ and the insinuation that they had to be taught a lesson because they might have been cooking beef!
  3. We condemn the UoH administration’s cutting off of water, electricity, internet and food to the campus residents. Nothing, no trumped up charge merits this kind of denial of basic necessities, and this action taken by the administration and aided by the police is CASTEISM, whereby the authorities feel justified to ‘teaching’ dissenting voices a lesson, in the manner of feudal upper caste landlords.
  4. We demand a response from the Telangana state government, which has supplied police to meet the nefarious demands of tainted and on-leave VC Appa Rao. A government which was formed on the demands of equality of the disadvantaged sections of society must hang its head in shame due to its complicity with the casteist UoH admin.
  5. VC Appa Rao Podile assumed office on the 22nd of March even though he has been booked under the SC ST Atrocities Act. Instead of arresting him, the police aided him in postponing the Academic Council meeting and shutting down university amenities. Appa Rao must go! The judicial probe and the MHRD probe against him be concluded impartially and at the earliest, and those responsible for Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder punished.
  6. We also condemn the national media’s silence over this state of emergency imposed on UoH, demand that the UoH community’s voice be heard and adequately represented, as the gravity of the situation merits. This media blackout reeks of casteism and complicity with Hindtutva forces, and must be resisted by all means.
  7. Casteism is the most deeply entrenched reality of modern India. Our public spaces, universities, and academia are as much a part of it, as our institutions of marriage, dining and religion. We urge the academic community in India and abroad to support UoH in its fight against casteism and fascism in the same manner in which it has supported elite institutions in the past.

Jai Bhim!

Continue reading Statement in Solidarity with the ongoing movement at University of Hyderabad

Open Letter from Hyderabad University Alumni against Repression on HCU Campus and the Return of Appa Rao as VC

Guest Post by UoH/HCU Alumni

UoH Alumni Open Letter against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the return of Dr. Appa Rao as UoH’s VC, and the brutal display of state violence in campus.

As alumni of the University of Hyderabad, we observed with dismay the return of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad (UoH) on March 22. We strongly condemn this provocation that led to the police brutality on campus. The shutdown of the university which has followed is unacceptable and unlawful.

A couple of days ago, a report ranked three departments of the University of Hyderabad among the top 500 university facilities in the world. The education we received at UoH helped us to not only shape our careers, but also to question, critique and analyse concepts such as equality, fraternity and social justice.  Upon entering a central university of this size, we were exposed to the sheer diversity of this country. UoH, like other central universities in India, is an amalgam of many languages, cultures, religions and regions.

However, much like the rest of the country, the university campus is a space where systematically oppressive caste structures operate and are institutionally legitimised. Recent events at UoH have left us dismayed and angered at the treatment meted out to peacefully protesting students at the hands of the administration and the police.

Continue reading Open Letter from Hyderabad University Alumni against Repression on HCU Campus and the Return of Appa Rao as VC

Students Testify to Police Brutality on the HCU Campus in Hyderabad : Guest Post from HCU Students

Guest Post by HCU students (Taken from Youtube Uploads and Facebook Status Updates)

[Since there is a virtual media blackout of the situation in Hyderabad Central University we have decided to share video testimonies by students of the violence unleashed by CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and the RAF (Rapid Action Force) which were called in at the behest of the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao – who is already under a cloud for having created the circumstances that led to Rohith Vemula’s suicide, which many students consider to be an ‘institutional murder’. When Appa Rao returned to the University, students were enraged, and they started a ‘sit-in’ outside the Vice Chancellor’s lodge. It was then that the central forces were called in. Later, electricity, water and internet facilities were cut off. The debit card used by the students, linked to the State Bank of India branch on the campus, were blocked. The non teaching staff was persuaded not to give food in university hostel canteens to students. Some students who started a community kitchen were taken away by the police. One of them, a research scholar called Uday Bhanu was so badly beaten up that he has been admitted to intensive care at a local hospital. His condition remains critical.

Courtest, 'University Community' & '#DalitLivesMatter'
Courtest, ‘University Community’ & ‘#DalitLivesMatter’

Hyderabad Central University, is now a virtual prison camp.


According to reports, 36 students are still missing. Several are hospitalized and are being treated for injuries. At least one of the students is in a critical condition.12671963_1656941941246803_5210071450630800436_o Continue reading Students Testify to Police Brutality on the HCU Campus in Hyderabad : Guest Post from HCU Students