By Abhishek Jha:
Fresh protests rocked the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on April 6, 2016, as members of the Left-affiliated students’ unions tried to force their way into the University campus. They were demanding Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile’s removal over the suicide of Rohith Vemula, even as police took into preventive custody 83 of the protesters.
In a new development, Controller of Examination Professor V. Krishna walked out of the Academic Council (AC) Meeting in the Varsity to express his solidarity with the agitators as protests by scores of students as part of ‘Chalo HCU’ were held at the gate of the campus.
The ‘Chalo HCU’ call was given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice of HCU to intensify their ongoing agitation demanding the removal and arrest of Podile, who was reinstated as V-C on March 22, 2016, after being on leave for two months.
Some of the protesters, who claimed that Podile has no right to chair the AC meeting, climbed the main entrance gate even as the police, deployed in large numbers, immediately intervened and prevented them from entering the campus and took them into preventive custody.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Bhujanga Rao said there was no permission for outsiders to enter the HCU campus.“They tried to barge into the campus…In view of the law and order issue, police stopped them and took 83 of them into preventive arrest,” he said.
Prashant, a JAC member said, “We will seek cooperation from different political parties and students and civil organisations to build pressure on BJP government for sacking Appa Rao.”
The protesting students raised slogans against Podile and displayed banners asking him to leave the campus. They said Podile has been booked on the charge of abetting the suicide of Vemula, and questioned how he could chair the AC meeting.
A press statement by the SC/ST Faculty Forum and Concerned Faculty Forum has since expressed “utter disbelief and anguish at the turn of events” at the University on April 6, 2016. The faculty members have pointed out that the Academic Council Meeting was held “in a highly irregular manner, in direct violation of all norms of propriety and official procedure.” The Forum also expressed disappointment over police deployment and the change of venue for the meeting from Life Sciences Auditorium to VC’s Lodge late in the afternoon on April 5.
The Forum has also called the gesture of protest by V. Krishna as “unprecedented and exceptional”.
The statement, without naming the particular professor, says that an eminent professor from the Social Sciences chose to stay out and wrote to the V-C that he had the power to conduct the AC Meeting, “but not quite the authority”. A number of faculty members endorsed this letter while some others stayed back to register their protest, the statement says.
Nandini Sundar, Professor at Delhi University and an external member of the AC, is also said to have “posed hard questions” to the V-C regarding the issues on campus. She also enquired about the charges of plagiarism, which the V-C has accepted, according to reports, as an item on the agenda included “identifying malpractices in exams and the requisite punishments,” the statement by the Forum said. The HRD ministry, too, has now sought comments from Podile on the news reports.
Meanwhile, the Press Council of India (PCI) also expressed concern on April 6 over restrictions imposed on the media by the authorities of the University and sought to know the reasons behind the move. Reports earlier this week had shown that a Deans committee meeting had held that “the University security needs to keep a constant vigil on the possible sneaking of the media”.
“The Chairman felt that prima facie, the action of the HCU impinge[s] on the freedom of the press. Taking suo-motu cognisance of the issue, the Hon’ble Chairman ordered for immediately calling a report in the matter from the Vice Chancellor, Hyderabad Central University,” a PCI statement said.
With inputs from PTI.