Thursday, March 24, 2016

University of Hyderabad students use social media to mobilise support // Appa Rao’s return as VC emblematic of BJP’s meddling in university system // ‘Emergency-like’ situation in Hyderabad University: Students’ body

Students complain that the media has been misreporting the facts or blacking out the story completely, and circulated a set of documents that purportedly showed how Appa Rao’s return to the campus was carefully calibrated.

With no electricity or access to Wifi, protesting students at the University of Hyderabad on Thursday mobilised support in any way they could through social media. The situation on campus has been tense since students resumed their protests on Monday when the Vice Chancellor Podile Appa Rao returned to office. Appa Rao has been implicated in the suicide of Dalit PhD scholar Rohit Vemula. Some students said food and water supplies were restored on campus in the morning, claiming the administration was threatened that cases of violation of human rights would be filed against them for stopping these amenities. However this has not been confirmed yet.

Earlier, through their various Facebook posts, students appealed to the media to report on the situation inside the university, and used the Internet on their phones to call for help and request supplies such as food and water for those stuck inside the university. The students received support from nearby restaurants and Lamakaan, a cultural event centre, which vowed to provide free food to anyone who showed up with their identity cards.

On Tuesday, more than 30 students and three professors were picked up by the police. Many have complained of harassment and manhandling by the police. On Wednesday, the police arrested 27 people. They also clamped down on students who had taken to cooking their own food in the college premises after the hostel mess were allegedly shut down by the authorities. Students who procured raw material including dal and vegetables from outside the university assembled in their respective hostel messes to cook their meals. A 29-year-old PhD student, Udaybhanu, was allegedly beaten up by the police for insisting on cooking on the main university road. At the same time, students continued to complain that the media has been misreporting the facts or blacking out the story completely, and circulated a set of documents that purportedly showed how Appa Rao’s return to the campus was carefully calibrated.

Police Brutality in University of Hyderabad
Police Brutality in University of Hyderabad- Part 2
Police Brutality in University of Hyderabad- Part 3

Arun Khote On behalf of Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of “Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC”)

Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and  intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.

Appa Rao’s return as VC is emblematic of BJP’s meddling in the Indian university system
Creating an outrage in the student community, Appa Rao Podile, the Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University, who was on an indefinite leave, has resumed office on Tuesday amidst protests by the students which turned violent. As reported by The Hindu, parts of the University resembled a war zone with broken window panes, office furniture, computers and scattered papers... On the flip side, most under-reported aspects are the serious injuries sustained by the students during the lathi charge and the detention of more than 30 students and couple of faculty by the police. More than forty students were treated for injuries at the health centre in the university of which ten are sent to private hospitals for further treatment. University administration has shut down the internet facility, preventing the students to reach out to public through social media immediately. Electricity and water supply were put off, creating unlivable conditions for the protesting students. Protesting against the students citing the violence, non-teaching staff has shut down the mess facilities, making it extremely difficult for the students to survive. Those who attempted to cook outside the buildings had to face police admonition and intimidation.

‘Emergency-like’ situation in Hyderabad University: Students’ body
In a statement issued, the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice alleged that police, Rapid Action Force (RAF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other security personnel unleashed a brutal physical and sexual assault on students and teachers, on campus. “Women students were beaten and grabbed by male police officers. After the forcible eviction from the lodge compound, police chased us for another 2 km, and grabbed and arrested students. Students suffered grievous injuries and were taken to hospitals,” the statement said. According to the JAC, the phones of several students were confiscated while they were video recording the brutality. It said 36 students, including three professors were picked up, brutally beaten in a police van, and detained in unknown locations all night. The JAC further alleged that Appa Rao had provided the list of students and professors to be picked up, further stating that Appa Rao conspired with ABVP students, a section of faculty and non-teaching staff to return to the university and resume duties as the vice-chancellor.