Academics, Writers & Artists Globally Condemn ‘State Violence’ in Hyderabad University
Over 300 academics, activists, artists and writers from across the globe have condemned the ongoing `brutal attacksâ€™ on and `illegal detentionâ€™ of peacefully protesting faculty and students at the University of Hyderabad by the administration and the police. They have also condemned the restriction of access to basic necessities like water and food on campus. In a joint statement issued on Sunday, academics, writers, activists and artists have expressed their solidarity with the protesting students, staff and faculty of the University and demanded immediate withdrawal of police from the campus and release of and withdrawal of all cases against arrested students and faculty. They have also asked for suspension of the Vice-Chancellor P.Appa Rao and a judicial enquiry into the role of the Human Resource Development Ministry and the HRD Minister of State Mr Bandaru Dattatreya in inciting violence against Daits on the campus.
Further, the statement seeks an independent enquiry into the incidents of violence on the campus including the `role of ABVP in vandalizing the Vice-Chancellors office,â€™ action against police personnel named by students in their complaints and passage of the `Rohith Actâ€™ against caste discrimination in education. The students and faculty members of the University of Hyderabad were protesting the reinstatement of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor despite the ongoing judicial enquiry against him related to the circumstances leading to the death of the dalit student Rohith Vemula on January 17, 2016. Students and faculty members of the university community are concerned that this may provide him the opportunity to tamper with evidence and to influence witnesses. Suicides by dalit students have been recurring in the University of Hyderabad and other campuses across the country, the statement said.
The issue spiraled into a nationwide studentsâ€™ protest with the death of the dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. The protests have pushed into the foreground public discussion and debate on the persistence of caste-based discrimination in educational institutions, and surveillance and suppression of dissent and intellectual debate in university spaces.””Since the morning of March 22 when Dr. Appa Rao returned to campus, the students and staff have been in a siege-like situation. The peacefully protesting staff and students were brutally lathi-charged by the police, and 27 people were taken into custody. The 27 detainees were untraceable for 48 hours, brutally tortured, and denied legal access. In short, all legal procedures of detention have been suspended. After the incident, the university has been locked down with no access to food, water, electricity, and Internet connectivity. Â Â Students were brutally assaulted when they opened community kitchens.Â Lawyers and members of human rights organization as well the ordinary citizens of the city were denied access to students. University of Hyderabad is one of Indiaâ€™s biggest public universities,”” the statement said.
“”We have followed, with deep concern, similar violent attacks and undemocratic crackdown on students on the campuses of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Film and Television Institute of India, the University of Allahabad, Jadavpur University, Burdwan University, and others across the country. That the highest administrative authorities in the university have allowed the silencing of debate and dissent is unfortunate. We are disturbed by the pattern of growing nexus between student vigilante groups, youth wing of the ruling party, state and university authorities in colleges and university campuses across the country in order to mobilize the state machinery against vulnerable students. This has created a climate of fear and oppression in the country, and continually violates fundamental human and Constitutional rights of students,”” the statement said.
The signatories include: Lawrence Cohen, Director, Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley; Navtej K Purewal Deputy Director, South Asia Institute SOAS University of London; Akhil Gupta, Director, Center for India and South Asia (CISA), UCLA; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), MIT; Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, The Oakland Institute; Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University; Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA; Sandeep Pandey, former Visiting Faculty, IIT, BHU, Varanasi; Michael D. Yates, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, United States; Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Womenâ€™s Studies Department, Simon Fraser University, Canada; Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Alpa Shah, London School of Economics; Rahul Varman, IIT Kanpur; Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University; Dr. PÃ©rez de Mendiola, Richard Armour Professor of Modern Languages, Chair, Dept. of Latin American, Caribbean and Spanish Literatures and Cultures & Humanities, Scripps College; Samantha Agarwal, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University; Valentina Dallona, Johns Hopkins University; Xiao Yu, Peking University; Narendra Subramaniam, McGill University; Suvrat Raju, TIFR; Preeti Shekar, Asian College of Journalism; Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; in addition to a number of faculty members from JNU and Delhi University among others.”