Protests which erupted at Osmania University against authorities denying permission for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's visit to the campus on May 7 continued on Monday, May 2. While the university authorities have denied permission for the visit citing their earlier decision not to allow any political meetings on the campus, Congress leaders in the state have insisted that the visit is not political in nature. They said Rahul Gandhi plans to go around the hostels and mess and interact with students to know about the problem of unemployment. They also alleged that the university authorities have denied permission for the visit at the behest of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government.
OU Vice-Chancellor D Ravinder told TNM that permission was denied as the university executive council has taken a decision not to permit political events on the campus. OU had been a hotbed of political activity during the Telangana agitation for separate statehood. However, since the formation of Telangana, the campus has seen protests against TRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on many occasions for failing to fulfil various promises including providing employment.
A large number of policemen were deployed on the campus after Sunday's incident in which protesters led by NSUI (National Students' Union of India) state president Venkat Balmoor stormed into the OU administrative building and tried to barge into the locked Vice Chancellor's office. They allegedly broke glass panes of the door, raising slogans against the Vice-Chancellor and the government, alleging the Vice-Chancellor was acting at the behest of the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. They were booked for unlawful assembly, assault, rioting, trespass and preventing public servants from discharging their duties.
On a complaint by a woman police constable, the arrested NSUI leaders were also charged with attempting to outrage her modesty. Venkat Balmoor and 17 others were produced before a magistrate, who sent them to judicial custody for 14 days. Congress MP and in-charge of party affairs in Telangana Manickam Tagore has condemned the arrest of NSUI leaders and demanded their immediate release.
On Monday, police detained leaders of the Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OU JAC) when they staged a protest in front of Arts College on the campus and shifted them to the police station. Police have beefed up security on the campus in view of the continuing protests by student groups.
Leaders of student groups were also arrested on Sunday when they staged a protest at Minister's Quarters in Banjara Hills. When Congress MLA Jagga Reddy went to the police station to call on the arrested students and threatened to visit the OU campus, he was detained at the police station.
Jagga Reddy had last week approached the university authorities seeking permission for Rahul Gandhi's visit to the campus. The university, however, refused permission for the same citing their earlier decision not to allow any public meeting on the campus. The Congress leaders, however, claimed that Rahul Gandhi's visit was not political. They said he would visit the hostel and mess and interact with students to know about their problems. They maintained that he has been visiting universities in different parts of the country.
Rahul Gandhi will be visiting Telangana on May 6 and 7. He will attend a public meeting at Warangal on May 6. He is scheduled to hold a meeting with party leaders at Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad on May 7. He will also meet family members of people who lost their lives during the agitation for Telangana statehood.
MP Uttam Kumar Reddy announced that Rahul Gandhi will go ahead with a visit to the university. He slammed the TRS government for denying permission for the visit. "When BJP leaders can visit Osmania University and address meetings and when birthdays of KCR and KTR can be celebrated, why can't our leader visit the campus. Is it the property of CM KCR?" he asked.
In November 2020, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Tejasvi Surya was booked by Osmania University police for breaking through barriers and entering the university to address students at the Arts College building, in the midst of campaigning for the BJP for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls. He was booked on charges of criminal trespassing based on a complaint by the university's administration.
Uttam Kumar Reddy argued that the visit by Rahul Gandhi is not political in nature as he plans to go around the hostels and mess and also interact with students to know about the problem of unemployment.
State Congress chief Revanth Reddy said since Osmania University played a key role in the first and second phases of the Telangana movement, Rahul Gandhi is keen to visit the campus to interact with students and gather details. "Why is KCR scared?" he asked.
Congress spokesperson Dr Dasoju Sravan also slammed the KCR government for denying permission for Rahul Gandhi's meeting with students on the Osmania University campus. "Why is KCR and KTR company fearing Rahul Gandhi so much?" he asked.
Sravan alleged that the TRS government has been stooping to new lows with arrests of NSUI and Youth Congress members. He challenged TRS Working President and minister KT Rama Rao to an open discussion in front of Arts College, on the issue of students and unemployed youth of Telangana.
"It is absolutely shameful that the TRS government has denied permission for Rahul Gandhi's visit to Osmania University. KCR, KTR and company should remember that it was because of Congress President Sonia Gandhi that Telangana state was achieved and all the power being enjoyed by KCR and his family is because of her. Forgetting everything, how can they deny permission to Soniaji's son, when he wanted to visit OU to know about students and unemployed youth's problems?" he questioned.
With IANS inputs