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‘What kind of a country treats its students in this manner?’
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Press Statement by Independent Fact Finding Team which visited University of Hyderabad

Hyderabad March 26, 2016.

Brute force by police and state apparatus was the only way by which the administration sought to restore in office, the Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao, the prime accused of being responsible for the suicide of Rohith Vemula. Violent attack by police and forceful detention of students was used to suppress the protests at Hyderabad Central University, concluded the members of the independent fact finding team.

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On hearing the news of the violent attack by the police on the students on March 22, 2016, the human rights defenders from across the country constituted an independent team to visit the university and ascertain the real facts of the incidents that took place.

The team comprising of senior activists, academicians and lawyers have met with the students, faculty members and local civil society organisations. The team has compiled narratives and testimonies of students and faculty present at the site of violence on campus.

In the duration of 2 days, the fact-finding team has conducted interviews with the Cyberabad Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and the Inspector of Police and the Telangana State Home Minister.

Several attempts were made to meet VC Appa Rao, but an interview was categorically denied. Further formal written requests were made to enter the campus premises but the team was refused entry. The Chief Security Officer Mr. TV Rao refused to meet the team despite several written and telephonic requests.

‘Curtailing freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association, freedom of movement at Hyderabad Central University is a gross violation of human rights,’ said Henri Tiphagne, Human Rights Defenders Alert India.

It is alleged, pre-meditated vandalism orchestrated by the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, supportive of faculty members and ABVP supporters was used a context to indulge in swift and brutal attack by police personnel including severe lathi beatings, blows in face, abdomen & private parts, cuts with sharp instruments, abusive language and threats were used by the police to disrupt the students outside the VC lodge. The threats included those of rape and threat to life. 27 students and 2 faculty members were taken into police vans, brutally beaten and then detained in undisclosed locations for more than 24 hours.

 ‘What kind of a country treats its students in this manner? A person accused of a crime under the SC/ST PoA assumes public office and the students are deprived of food, water, and basic facilities and live under siege with constant threats. Is this the real face of shining India?’ remarked Asha Kowtal, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch

The FF team also observed deep trauma, fear, depression and exhaustion amongst the students who still continue to fight bravely. The students on campus are living with a deep-seated anxiety and fear. They are being constantly provoked and threatened by the police presence on campus. Many young students are still traumatized by the tragic death of Rohith. During the interactions, several Muslim students shared they were abused and called ‘terrorists’. This police brutality has increased the emotional vulnerability to a large extent.

Paul Divakar, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, said, “HCU which has been named by the President of India as a top University in academic excellence in the country. It has highest inclusion and diversity of caste and gender. However extreme provocation and violence has been unleashed against faculty and students. Attempts are made to criminalize students as well as faculty. Why?”

Speaking on behalf of the fact finding team, Burnard Fatima, International Movement Against Discrimination and Racism said, ‘The government must take immediate legal action on the VC Appa Rao and other accomplices involved in the brutal attack on students. We call for immediate arrest of VC Appa Rao. Further she adds, ‘Release the arrested students and faculty. Revoke the criminal charges against them and allow the students and university to continue the academic semester’

V A Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary, National Dalit Movement of Justice said, ‘in order to ensure fair investigation against the accused ( Under SC/ST PoA) VC Appa Rao, he must be disallowed to be the Vice Chancellor. Legal action, under Sec(4) of SC/ST PoA to be taken against the police personnel who have been willfully negligent in their duties.’

As a member of the Team, Tara Rao, Amnesty International India, said ‘Students have a right to peacefully protest. Arrests of peaceful protesters violate India’s obligations under international law. The arrest of the students and holding them for almost 24 hours without giving any information about their status is in breach of numerous international human rights standards including the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.’

Please contact:

Ms. Beena Pallical
+91-9958797404
beena@ncdhr.org.in

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