Today, following unrest in EFLU, Hyderabad, after the death of M Narsing Rao, a Dalit contractual employee, the police entered the EFLU campus and lathi charged students and employees who were protesting peacefully demanding compensation for the bereaved family. Many students and employees including faculty members were hurt in the lathi charge. 6 students and a few other workers of EFLU were arrested and taken away from the campus. They were in the Osmania police station from the morning and were shifted to the Kachiguda police station in the afternoon. They were in police custody till late evening and were released only around 8.30 pm. Most of those arrested were SC/ST and Muslim students who are active participants in the campus politics of EFLU.
The tussle between the police and the workers and students took place while the body of the dead labourer was taken for post-mortem. It was after this that they staged a protest in EFLU. At this time, the police was called in by the administration and they resorted to lathi charging the students. Some students were trying to capture the lathi charge on camera and it was then that the police started arresting them.
The EFLU campus had seen an active and dynamic politics by Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi and minority students in the last few years. Students here had systematically protested the harassment meted out to SC/ST/OBC students and were bringing to public notice various issues of concern to them.
The situation in EFLU grew volatile after the suicide of Mudasir Kamran, a Kashmiri student, who allegedly killed himself after he was arrested by the Police at the behest of the Proctor of EFLU. Similarly, EFLU was again in the news, when a senior professor filed a case against a few SC/ST/OBC students who were protesting against her harassment of their fellow SC/ST/OBC students.
Last Friday, Dalit students who were protesting the construction of illegal religious structures in Osmania had clashed with ABVP students. Following this, the police went about arresting only Dalit students. Dalit student groups, DABMSA, SIO and other student groups had staged a protest in EFLU against this arrest of Dalit students in Osmania.
However, such student activism is inviting more and more repressive measures from the administration of EFLU. Students allege that the police can enter the university without any restraint these days. In fact, it was the administration that called in the police even today. It must be remembered here that only a few days ago, on April 25th, the registrar had issued a notice, which banned all public meetings by students in EFLU, without prior permission!!
More and more, students are being denied their right to protest and organize themselves politically in campuses across the country. At this juncture it is important that we think about other such incidents in other campuses in India. For instance, Dalitbahujan students who were planning to hold a Beef Pork festival in JNU were given show cause notices by the administration a few months ago. Similarly, students protesting Narendra Modi’s visit to Delhi University were also slapped with police cases. It is important that we take notice of these events and happenings. Even as marginalized students who are entering the field of higher education are making their presence felt in the field of higher education with their political activism and analytical and organizational skills, their much needed voices are being increasingly silenced and repressed.
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