Hyderabad Central University vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile's official residence was vandalised on Tuesday by students and police had to lathicharge another group during their protest against him resuming charge after a two-month leave in the wake of suicide by dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice at the university, which is spearheading the agitation, has decided to boycott classes and will ask other students and faculty members to do the same.
Following the protests, the mess at the UoH has been closed and the WiFi on campus has been disconnected. The JAC will have a classroom campaign on Wednesday to inform students about these issues and urge them not to attend classes.
The JAC has also said that if the mess issue is not resolved, then they will cook themselves and that they have no plans to confront students or faculty and will carry out peaceful protests.
Among the demands that the protesters have made include that they donâ€™t want Appa Rao to resume his charge as VC. They have also asked for the 36 students, who have been detained and kept at an undisclosed location by the police after Tuesdayâ€™s violence, to be released.
â€œWe want all of our demands to be met, if the institution fails to do so we will continue with the struggle. We have already boycotted classes, soon we will quit he mess and if the situation persists we will call for an administrative bandh as well,â€œ Prashanth Dontha, a member of JAC and a close friend of Rohith, told The Times of India.
JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar who is out on bail in a sedition case, will be visiting Hyderabad Central University on Wednesday evening where he is expected to join the protest against Rohith Vemula's suicide. Kumar will also meet Vemula's mother.
Kanhaiya met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi at his Tughlaq lane residence on Tuesday to thank him for his support during the ongoing controversy. PTI
What happened at the university
The protests began on Tuesday morning when a section of students while raising slogans against the Vice Chancellor, barged into his residence (VC's lodge), broke window panes, smashed doors and television among other items, protesting against his resumption of duty.
Prof. Podile was in a meeting with some deans and members of the executive committee in the lodge when the students struck.
Later, a group of students continued their protest by squatting outside Podile's residence.
"Police had to resort to caning after repeated requests to the agitating students failed to get positive response. Students also indulged in stone-pelting, injuring four police personnel," a police official said.
According to him, police were requesting the students since afternoon but they were "adamant" and did not pay heed to disperse from the place.
Prof. Podile termed the vandalisation incident as the "black day" for University of Hyderabad.
"I was having a meeting with some deans and members of the executive committee on how to handle things in University. Meanwhile, a group of students came, (they) banged the doors, ransacked the office and resorted to violence of the magnitude which we have never seen in university. This is the black day for the University of Hyderabad," he said.
The VC said the violence is uncalled for.
"The students did not resort to a dialogue. They should have given me a representation. Without telling anything ransacking the office to this magnitude is uncalled for and not expected from students of University of Hyderabad. All the teachers are feeling that this is unbecoming of the students," he added.
Prof Podile, who is in the eye of a storm over Vemula's suicide on January 17, had proceeded on leave on January 24 as the agitating students demanded his resignation and held vigorous protests seeking "justice" for the dalit student.
Meanwhile, the agitating students claimed that vandalisation was carried out by the members of the ABVP to tarnish the image of students on protest and to divert the entire issue.
Some members belonging to ABVP later gathered at VC's lodge to prevent the protesters from entering the house.
When asked about the proposed visit of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar to HCU tomorrow, the VC said, "I have not given any permission for the meeting. There was no letter (requesting permission for meeting) from anyone on this. I will have to discuss with police and my colleagues then only I can comment."
A large number of police personnel were deployed near the VC's lodge as tension prevailed on the campus.
Meanwhile, a senior police official said that pickets will be set up on the campus near hostels to prevent any untoward incidents.
"We will also provide security to the VC as he sought protection. Prohibitory orders are in place and it will in force until normalcy returns," said DCP (crime) B Navin Kumar.
Another police official said that ten protesters who allegedly indulged in stone pelting were taken into custody and inquiry in underway to identify those indulged in vandalism.
D Prashant, one of the five students suspended by the varsity earlier, said, "At the behest of (Union minister) Venkaiah Naidu, he (VC) came to UoH (University of Hyderabad, also called as HCU). At the behest of Central Government he occupied VC's seat despite the fact that the whole university resisted," Prashant said.
Another student said that they wanted the VC to not come to campus. "We lost Rohith Vemula. He (Prof. Appa Rao Podile) is one of the culprits. It's almost over two months since the incident occurred but no action has been initiated," he said.
However, the VC struck an aggressive note, saying the handful of students cannot dictate who should be the Vice Chancellor.
"This is going to be a national problem not just in University of Hyderabad. Tomorrow, any hundred or fifty students can say this particular Vice Chancellor should be there," he added.
After Vemula's suicide, Cyberabad police had registered a case against Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Prof. Podile and three others.
"The matter is in the court. Judicial Commission is there (probing Vemula suicide incident). Let the report come. Why are they ransacking the office? This we cannot tolerate. We are going to seek the help of local police," he told reporters.
The VC also asked the media to desist from sensationalising the issue.