A shocking video is circulating on social media showing Hyderabad police allegedly assaulting students with lathis following pitched protests on the Osmania University campus.
The short video shows a group of people sitting on beds in a room as loud crashes can be heard coming from outside. Suddenly, the room’s door shakes on its hinges, as it is kicked down from the outside. A group of policemen wearing protective vests and helmets and carrying cane shields and lathis burst into the room and deal out blows to the people inside, before taking away some of them.
Trouble began in Osmania University on Sunday, when E Murali, a 21-year-old student studying his Master’s degree in Physics, hanged himself in the bathroom of the University’s Maneru Hostel. Hailing from Gajwel of Siddipet mandal in Telangana, Murali came from an OBC community and was a first-generation graduate student from his family.
At around 2.30pm, Murali was found dead by a fellow student. He had reportedly used two shoelaces to form a noose for himself. According to the police, a suicide note recovered from Murali said that he had decided to kill himself because he was afraid of failing exams.
“Exams are coming closer and I am getting very scared,” the note reads in a mixture of English and Telugu. “I don’t want to fail. I never want to fail in exams. I don’t know how to face this,” reads the note.
The note apologises to Murali’s mother, and asks his brothers to take care of their mother. “I want to take rest in peace and I am really happy with my death,” the note also says.
However, sections of Osmania’s student population have refused to accept this explanation for Murali’s death. They argue that Murali was depressed over the possibility of unemployment. "We suspect that the student committed suicide due to unemployment. The Telangana government's delay in releasing job notifications led to his depression, due to which he committed suicide," Manavatha Roy, President of the Osmania University (OU) Joint Action Committee was quoted as saying by Times of India.
On Sunday, grief quickly turned to anger, as crowds of protesting students blocked access to Maneru Hostel and for many hours refused to let Murali’s body be taken away for post-mortem. The police were then called into the campus. Students allege that the police proceeded to lathicharge and assault students.
Talking to TNM on Monday, Democratic Students’ Union General Secretary, Arunank Latha, said that the police barged into hostel rooms between 3am and 4am. “They beat up students and took away all the student leaders. We are not able to track them and don’t know where they are,” Arunank said.
On Murali’s death, Arunank said that the K Chandrasekar Rao government had to take responsibility. "Along with academic pressure on Murali, there is also a lot of despair over not getting government jobs. Murali had discussed this with his friends. For this irrational education system and the negligence in filling up government jobs, the government is responsible.”
However, the police claim that they did not lathi-charge students, and only threatened students with force to be able to identify and detain ‘trouble-makers’. OU Inspector Ashok Reddy told TNM, "We didn't lathicharge the students. We just threatened them as they resorted to stone pelting. We had to detain a few students as they were trouble-makers.”