On October 9, Manikanta, a student of Hyderabad Central University and leader of Bahujan Students' Front (BSF) on the campus, received a summons from the Cyberabad police in Telangana. The police notice asked the student to appear before the investigation officer on October 6 for a case registered against him and 13 other students of HCU for taking part in the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in February. What came as a shock was that none of 14 students knew that there was a case registered against them until Manikanta received the summons.
The students took part in the protest following a rally from HCU to Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) on February 21. The Cyberabad police of Raidurgam station have served notices to the student leaders of HCU Coordination Committee, which was formed by a dozen student organisations on the campus. However, so far only Manikanta has received it. The notice was served as per section 41 (police may arrest without warrant) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
All the 14 students have been booked under 143 (unlawful assembly ), 188 (disobedience to public servants order) read with 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. These 14 students hail from different states such as Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, New Delhi and Bihar.
The case was registered based on a complaint of the Sub-Inspector of Police Raidurgam, who was performing duties at MANUU. According to the First Information Report (FIR), filed on February 21, about 10 to 30 students of HCU illegally gathered at a coffee shop near MANNU, from where they started the rally, held placards and made speeches.
The complainant SI claimed that the slogans and lectures against the Union government were provocative and could break the tranquillity at the university.
Of the 14 student leaders, some have not received the notices served by Cyberabad police. The police have named Saurabh Kumar, Hadif Nisar, Ashiquel Rasool Ismail, Thahir Jamal, Manikanta, Amal Jose, Akash Rathore, Sneha George, Bhaskar Sarkar, Ananthu Rajagopal, Mansi Chowdhary, Jiyad, Akram, Sonal and others all of them are from HCU.
Reacting to the police notice, Manikanta said, "I was shocked, but not surprised by the notice. Others, too, were shocked because it (the notice) came after more than seven months."
He added, "It is very undemocratic on the part of the Telangana government to register cases against students who peacefully and democratically protested. The MANUU authorities granted us permission to hold peaceful protests against draconian CAA and NRC."
While demanding dropping the charges against them, he added that it showed the double standards of the Telangana government. "We all condemn curbing of dissent by the Telangana government. If the TRS government is against all the citizenship law, then why is it booking students for talking against the same."
While NSUI (National Students Union of India) of the HCU unit called the case a sort of intimidation by police while accusing TRS government as team B of the BJP. On the other hand, the Jammu and Kashmir Students Association (JKSA) has also called the registering of the cases as "unlawful" while demanding to drop charges against students.
In a statement, JKSA said, "Jammu and Kashmir Students Association condemns this cowardly act and stands in unconditional solidarity with the students of Hyderabad Coordination Committee and all the voices of dissent against CAA/NRC. We demand immediate revocation of all the charges against them."