[Via EFLU Students for Justice]
The struggle against Vice Chancellor Sunaina Singh (henceforth referred to as SS) and her entirely arbitrary decision to rusticate three students for allegedly breaking a glass door during a protest against the closure of the 24 hour reading room has now entered its third week. This has been a long two weeks, with police contingents of increasing sizes and assets being brought in at the Vice Chancellor’s behest to silence the now growing strength of protestors. On May 19th, 140 members of the Solidarity Committee, who had gathered at EFLU to participate in the Mahadharna, were arrested and placed under preventive detention.
More than 400 policemen lay siege to a 30 acre campus, blocked all its gates and possible entrances through nearby areas, forced all shop-keepers and vendors to close down, and while at their bullying best, they ogled at the women students, ate up all the food in the cafeteria and billed it on the University. The police occupation continues with reinforcements from the CRPF and the RAF. And all of this, for a group of students and teachers, whose only intention was to sit on a peaceful demonstration until SS opened dialogue with protestors (a hitherto unprecedented gesture for this particular administration).
It seems the 400-strong police force was put in place to ensure SS’ security, while she addresses the protestors. This is not the first time that SS has staged such police drama on campus. In her narrative, any semblance of critique will without exception carry the tag of criminality.
Lists of ‘radical’ students and teachers with ‘Maoist’ and ‘terrorist’ backgrounds have been handed over to the police. Needless to say, all members of this list are individuals from Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi and minority backgrounds, who stick out like sore thumbs in SS’ grand genocidal project of eradicating Dalit voices from this campus.
Our Dalit Bahujan leaders now have regular visits and threats from the police and the Intelligence Bureau, thanks to SS’ megalomaniac insecurities about her position. On the day of the Mahadharna, she remained locked up in her office guarded by armed police-men. In an accidental encounter with one of the protestors, she repeated her age-old ‘dictum’: “Ask the rusticated students to appeal to me, and I will see what can be done.”
Different individuals in varying positions of responsibility have been told ‘similar’ statements. When her phone is not switched off to pleas of consideration fromgovernment officials, political leaders and activists: she complains, ‘I have told them to write a letter of appeal. I do not know why they are not doing it. I will consider as soon as they do.” To students she will say, “You appeal, I will see what I can do.” When asked for assurance of quick response, you will hear her say, “I cannot give you any assurance. It may take three months. It may take six months. It may even take a year.” We know, if left to her fascist whims and fancies, it will never happen.
Prof.Kodandaram (TS JAC Chairman), Kaki Madhava Rao (Ex-Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh), Chukka Ramaiah (Ex-MLC) , Aziz Pasha (Ex MP), Dr. D.T. Naik, (ADGP, retired), SharathNalliganti (MIM), Prof.Mallesham (Principal, Osmania Arts’ College), Prof. PL Vishweshwar Rao (Dean, MANUU) and many others attempted to meet SS. Some managed to reach the iron gates of her fortress, some were whisked away by the police and some managed to hear her at least one of her pre-recorded statements: “If they apologise I will reconsider” etc etc.
Time may mean nothing to SS. Her feudal righteousness must be satiated by our benign pleas for mercy. Why should procedure be centralized in the hands of this one person? What constitutional provision can possibly allow the concentration of power in an individual seat?
One wonders, in what rational paradigm, should one have to appeal against a clearly undemocratic decision. The enquiry committee that was set up to look into the breaking of the glass door had no student representation and no SC/ST representative (all mandatory requirements). The accused were not given a chance to defend themselves. In their response to the show-cause letters, the accused clearly stated they had nothing to do with the breaking of the door. But the committee never spoke to them. They were rusticated on the basis of 17 witnesses, some of whom categorically deny having given any statement that implicates these three students. Moreover, one can never discount the SS’ own intimidatory strategies to extract information (that may not even exist).
What court of law in a democracy passes judgement without seeking the accused’s version and context? Also, why has the committee report not been made public? The university has not provided it to the police or to RTI applications? Why should the procedures of a ‘clear’ conviction be kept hushed up in such a manner? And isn’t the punishment grossly disproportionate to the crime? It probably isn’t because the crime here exceeds the immediate act; it is the crime of a political existence on campus and of an interruption in what the SS inc. imagined would be their ‘seamless’ narrative of Brahminical domination.
The Round Table conference on 23rd May on Rustication of Students in EFLU at Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad was joined by Professors from Osmania University, EFLU, UOH and MANU. It was also joined by Dalit Activists, intellectuals, rights and democratic mass organisations, NGO’s, students organisations and representatives of various political parties.
~ Students’ Forum for Justice
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