Yesterday, on 22 March 2016, the Hyderabad Police brutally attacked the students and faculty of the Hyderabad Central University who protested against resumption of Appa Rao Poddile, Vice Chancellor. Many students and two faculty members were badly injured in the police attack. Some 36 students along with two professors, K Y Ratnam and Tathagat Sengupta were taken into custody, the whereabouts of them remains unknown till today.
Appa Rao Poddile, the Vice Chancellor, who was sent on leave in the wake of students’ agitation that broke out over the suicide of a Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, joined back the University. Appa Rao’s prejudiced actions against the Dalit scholars were exposed to the world during the flare up over Rohith’s death. He, along with Bandaru Dattatreya, and Smriti Irani are clearly responsible for his institutional murder. Hyderabad Police had accordingly booked him along with the union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, N Sushil Kumar, the HCU Unit of the ABVP and one Vishnu for abetment of suicide and also for violations of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. The cases under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code and also the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes prevention of atrocities Act were filed in Gachibowli police station under Cyberabad police commissionerate limits. In its characteristic obstinacy the HRD Ministry sent him back to take charge of the university.
While the Ambedkar Students Association ASA were protesting with sit-in in front of the VC’s lodge some elements indulged in stone throwing and causing damage to it in order to provide an alibi for the police to crack down. This has been the pet strategy of the Hindutva camp as the JNU slogan shouting and subsequent crack down on the innocent students revealed. The authorities should investigate and identify the culprit instead of charging the ASA students and even faculty for these acts without any proof.
Appa Rao had a history of anti-Dalit actions in the university. Rohith had written him a note insinuating how casteist environment in the university was alienating Dalit students. Any Vice Chancellor worth his salt would have been alarmed and counseled with him. However, Appa Rao has been so callous and incompetent that he never bothered to comprehend the consequences of his abominable punishment to the five Dalit scholars. It was an apt case for summary dismissal for the HRD Ministry but the latter chose to persist with such characters that carry out its saffron agenda. For the Hyderabad Police, there was a prima facie case to arrest Appa Rao, instead they cracked down on the students and faculty who protested against his reinstatement.
· Release all students and faculty unconditionally.
· Withdraw cases against them.
· Investigate who indulged in vandalism and book them for the crime
· Remove Appa Rao from the post of Vice Chancellor
· Bring a person with proven competence to restore the academic climate of the University.
Dr Anand Teltumbde
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights CPDR, Maharashtra