This is a transcript of the speech delivered by Prof K Y Ratnam at Velivada in the University of Hyderabad campus after his release from jail yesterday; it was transcribed by Vinay Shende. Prof Ratnam’s speech starts at around the 17th minute of the video which can be found here. Any discrepancies or errors in interpreting the speech are ours ~ Round Table India
I must appreciate all students who went to jail. I must salute them as they are very courageous. The way they put up the fight against the system was marvelous. The fight is against the system.
On 22nd March, there was a huge fight against the system. I was there in the Interview Board on 22nd March. I came at around 3 o’clock with some of the faculty. I saw that a very decent, very democratic protest was going on. It was happening on the lawn and not somewhere else. The lawn is grass, the students did not have any arms and they were only raising slogans against the Vice-Chancellor. They were saying that “The culprit entered the University”. He is a culprit because there are many cases on him. He filed a petition in High Court that is pending. The enquiry commission is still going on and is yet to be completed. The Ministry of HRD also said he was not able to reach out to the students.
When he could not reach out to students, he had no moral right to enter the official guest house. If he wanted to enter, he should have tendered an apology to the students. The way the democratic protest was dealt with by Appa Rao was very despotic, very authoritarian. You (Appa Rao) have no mechanism to address their dissent. You have not understood their dissent. You are supposed to address their dissent. Instead of addressing it, you resorted to violence. For what reason you used violence against the students?
For the past 2-3 months, we have been peacefully conducting the classes. Prof Periasamy (acting VC) was able to control the University. The way he was humiliated, I saw that! It was very unfortunate. The senior-most Professor of this university, the Acting Vice Chancellor, was humiliated. It was almost a “Coup” against Prof Periasamy. We should not tolerate it.
What is the necessity to come early in the morning to the university. You said you wanted to conduct the Executive Council meeting in your official residence. If at all you need to conduct a meeting, it has to be with senior-most Heads and other officials. Why do you want to conduct an Executive Council meeting with other students, inside (the official residence)? Is it official?
Prof Ratnam’s speech starts at around the 17th minute of the video
Then students were raising slogans against it, that it is unofficial. If it is unofficial, they why do you project it as an official meeting? This shows that students were not doing any illegal things – you were doing illegal things! When students protested against illegal things, you resorted to violence. I think this is undemocratic. Nowhere in the campuses in India, has a situation been dealt with like this. The way I saw, the students were running for their life. It was almost beyond Emergency. The way they beat the students, for what?
You must apologise to the students. All the students, twenty six, were very courageous. The way we were picked up, my colleague Tathagatha will explain. The way we were humiliated, insulted, taking all of our mothers, sisters (names)… 18 of us were taken in one van while others were in the other van and we were ill-treated, humiliated. For what reason? Appa Rao is supposed to be in jail. But 27 students and along with the faculty – we were sent to jail. For what reasons?
I think the convictions that Rohith had, the commitment that Rohith had – for that, I think, the students raised their voice. Those convictions, we faculty along with the students would like to carry forward the convictions that Rohith stood for! We wanted to do what Rohith wanted to do. For the past 3 months, almost, the students never raised anything. They are very peaceful. What made you to resort to this kind of violence on non-violent students on 22nd of March?
He HAS to answer that! I think, He has to get out from this university. Universities are like life science. What is taught in life sciences? The trees need 3 things – water, air and light. Students are like trees. You cut off their food, their water, their Internet! You even suspended their ATM cards. What life science you are talking? Where is the life? You took out the life of the students. Morally, you do not have the right to stay on the campus.
To democratize the campus, we are welcoming the consolidation of all the democratic forces. I must appreciate the courage of the students. We were better treated in jail. We were bothered about the students. The students didn’t have water in the campus. When we were thirsty in jail, we demanded water from the jailor. But here, there was no water, but the entire civil society was with us. You cannot drive out our democratic spirit that we drew from Rohith. You cannot drive out that spirit with your authoritarian, despotic way of functioning.
With this, I want to give chance to others. I must say thanks to all the students. My MA students, all the other students. They came. I could not tolerate how girl students were beaten up. The kind of words they uttered, it was humiliating. For the past 16 years I was on the campus, I have never seen such kind of words or things. In 2002, the same Appa Rao was responsible for rusticating 10 Dalit students. As soon as he came back as the Vice Chancellor, he stared attacking, social boycotting the students. Regimenting the campus. Regiments don’t work. In fact you have to be more democratic. You must learn from the students. We know what you are.
With this, I thank all the social organisations, each Department’s students, each student. We must appreciate young students who are so courageous. The way they put up a fight was very tremendous. There is no language to express. They were so spirited to fight on behalf of all of us. We are with them. We will be with you. We are not just 2 faculty members- all the faculty members are with you. All the SC/ST teachers and concerned teachers are all with you and forever with you. Thank you.
Video courtesy: Justice for Rohith
Picture courtesy: the internet.