COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS 185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025
RELEASE IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY ALL THE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS OF THE HCU WHO HAVE BEEN AGITATING FOR A JUST CAUSE!
REVOKE ALL THE FALSE CASE FOISTED ON THE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS!
SACK THE VC APPA RAO PODILE IMMEDIATELY!
The CRPP condemns in strongest words the unleashing of police and paramilitary forces on the protesting students of the University of Hyderabad and the subsequent arrest of 25 students and two faculty members on March 22, 2016. The events that unfurled on that day seem to have been stage-managed with utmost callousness and precision by the scheming Vice Chancellor, Professor Appa Rao Podile and the power centers with vested interest. The document that has emerged wherein every detail including procuring milk and water on the day of Appa Rao’s return is ample testimony to the meticulous planning to the minutest detail. Various eye-witness accounts and testimonies narrate that a group of students who are members of ABVP were already present inside the VC’s lodge when the protesting students reached there. The alleged vandalism that ensued seems to have been a ploy by those who schemed every step in Appa Rao’s return in order to facilitate brutal crackdown by the police forces and break the democratic students movement that has been going on against Appa Rao’s role in the suicide of Rohit Vemula.
It is pertinent to note that an FIR has already been registered against Appa Rao and the MHRD Committee has also held him responsible for the death of Rohit. But rather than following up on the investigations and taking action against the VC, the Central Government seems to have gone out of their way to facilitate his return to office. It has been alleged that Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, a senior Minister in the Central Government, and a former ABVP student leader who rose in the ranks and fortunes of the ladder of power has micromanaged the events in the University. The deployment of RAF and CRPF inside a university campus clearly gives substance to this allegation. Interestingly Mr. Venkaiah Naidu had written in a prominent English daily admonishing the students of JNU that they should ‘study’ rather than ‘indulge’ in politics. The CRPP extends its solidarity to the democratic struggle of the students and teachers of the University of Hyderabad. What is unfolding in the University is nothing but a uprising of the Dalit- Bahujan- Minority students against the Brahminical order of the State and the University, which is but just an arm of the State.
The series of events had started with the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) taking the Hindutva forces head on by screening a movie on the Muzaffarnagar riots and also protesting against the controversial hanging of Yakoob Memon. ABVP, the student wing of the Hindutva brigade, had ever since indulged in false accusations against students from ASA. With the BJP MP Dattatreya and the HRD Minister actively egging on, the University authorities compliantly took disciplinary action against the students including withholding their scholarships, which eventually led to the unfortunate suicide of Rohith Vemula. It is no wonder that the right wing government is engaged in a no-holds-barred fight with the students of University of Hyderabad. And the pattern that is emerging in the state crack down on students’ movements in various universities like JNU and other universities is too striking to miss.
The crackdown on the students on March 22 is at a level unheard of in any university in India in the recent past. Students and teachers who were nowhere near the scene of the unrest were brutally beaten up. Abuses that were casteist, sexist and that had anti-minority slant were hurled at the students. The campus became a veritable ground of human rights violation when the students were denied even the basic needs of food and water. The whole responsibility of the events of that day falls squarely on the shoulders of the VC, who should have shown more sensitivity and tact in handling a volatile issue of this magnitude given that the students were agitating for the past two months. Instead of taking responsibility for the suicide of a student and stepping down, he seems to have used all his political clout to cling on to the chair, and the political lords seem to have found a god-sent messiah in him to crack down on students movements and a public funded higher educational institute of repute.
This is yet another instance in which the government is showing their true colours and taking every step to scuttle the public funded higher education system at a time when higher education institutions have been made to open to a large section of the society (namely, the SC, ST, and OBC), who till recently had no access to such prestigious institutions. Further the pattern that is developing in the form of a concerted action of the state to stifle and criminalize every form of dissent that is cropping up also has ominous portents for the immediate future. ABVP, the Hindutva student wing of the sangh brigade is systematically being used by the police and the state to profile and criminalize organized student opinions and mobilizations.
If the corporate sector and the governments—be it the congress, BJP or any other parliamentary party—feel that salwa judum kind of experiment should be replicated in many parts of the subcontinent so as to facilitate the easy entry and exploitation by capital of the resources and wealth of the people, then ABVP is significantly becoming the counterpart on campuses where what the state would ideally want is idle minds, akin to the barren land, left after the plunder and loot by the multi-national corporations and the domestic money bags, in the hilly tracts, valleys and jungles, where nothing can be grown. Any campus in the subcontinent with a little liberal space or spark or critical minded faculties would be under the cross-hairs of a desperate government under the present dispensation unable to show any result on the ground and hence can’t afford to cede any space for critical thinking let alone assertion on that basis.
The CRPP calls for the immediate release and dropping of all charges against the students and teachers who have been held in custody from March 22. We support the demand for the removal of Professor Appa Rao Podile from the position of the Vice Chancellor. An impartial enquiry should be held to his role in the suicide of Rohith Vemula and in the barbaric crackdown on the students and teachers of the University, and stringent action should be taken against him. The CRPP also call for the enactment of a comprehensive law against caste discrimination in higher education institutions in the memory of Rohith Vemula.
SAR Geelani President
Amit Bhattacharyya Secretary General
Sujato Bhadra Vice President
MN Ravunni Vice President
Sukhendu Bhattacharjee Vice President
N. Venuh Vice President
P. Koya Vice President
Malem Vice President
Bojja Tharakam President, AP-Telangana Chapter
Balla Ravindranath Secretary, AP-Telangana Chapter
Hany Babu MT Media Secretary
Rona Wilson Secretary Public Relations