Various students groups assembled in the campus of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on Mondaywith one agenda. The students were challenging the university's decision to reinstate the suspension of five research scholars for allegedly assaulting another student.
"The decision taken by the university is completely baseless as the VC didn't hold any enquiry into the matter. We demand that the administration revoke the decision," said one protester.
Some of the student groups gathered included the Ambedkar Students Association, Bahujan Students Front, Dalit Students Union, and Students Federation of India.
While some of the protesters allege that it was a biased attitude against Dalit students, the suspended students themselves, claim that their version was not heard during an inquiry.
"We are yet to get an explanation as to why they reinstated our suspension," one of the students, who wished to remain anonymous, tells The News Minute.
The five students belong to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and the student they have been alleged of assaulting, was the university president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the unofficial student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
The students have now approached the Hyderabad High Court with a writ petition demanding that the suspension be revoked.
The entire chain of incidents can be traced back to August 1, when the ABVP disrupted the screening of a documentary on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots at Delhi University, allegedly for being 'anti-Hindu'.
"The ASA held a small protest against the disruption on August 3, following which the university's ABVP president put up a Facebook post which hurt our sentiments, as he called us goons," the student adds.
(A screenshot of the status)
The ASA students then claim that a small, non-violent confrontation followed, with the ABVP President tendering an apology letter in the presence of security, and everyone is said to have returned.
(A copy of the letter)
"This issue took a different shape by the next day morning i.e on 4-8-2015 when the ABVP President along with his brother, who is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), went to a private hospital and started a drama, that he was assaulted by the ASA. During that time, BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao met the Vice-Chancellor along with some of his party cadre and insisted for action against the 'Dalits', terming them as 'anti-national.' Following this, an enquiry committee was constituted by Professor R.P.Sharma, former Vice-Chancellor under the chairmanship of Professor Alok Pandey," the ASA alleges in a Facebook post.
The Proctorial Board, the disciplinary authority of the institute, conducted a probe into the incident, but the students claim that the findings of the committee and its final decision were contradictory.
The victim Susheel Kumar underwent a surgery soon after the incident but the student groups claim that "The (Proctoral) board could not get any hard evidence of the beating," while adding that "reports submitted by the doctor also could not link or suggest that the surgery was the direct link of an assault."
This was followed by massive protests where students termed the committee's report as 'biased,' and in a joint statement said: "The suspension of five Dalit students is yet another example displaying the nexus between the university administration and the right wing forces, inside and outside the campus."
Following this, the decision was revoked, and a new committee was formed to look into the matter again.
However, after weeks of protest, sit-ins and total boycott of classes by students and teachers, a faculty member Appa Rao Pondile was appointed as the new vice-chancellor of the varsity.
"The new committee did not even ask us for our side of events, and was soon dissolved after the new VC came. The university's executive council subsequently on December 16, reinstated our suspension, without notifying us earlier or giving us any explanation," one of the suspended students added.
The students are now waiting for the High Court petition to take its due course.