The installation of a war memorial in the campus of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has triggered a controversy among students and the varsity administration.
On July 26, the ABVP celebrated Kargil Vijay Diwas by holding a candlelight vigil, and installing a temporary memorial at a junction near the shopping complex area, as a tribute to martyrs of the Kargil war.
Speaking to TNM, ABVP President Uday Inala said, "We don't have any political motive behind it, and neither did we want to make it an issue. We do it every year, but this time, we brought a wooden structure to depict a soldier's memorial."
While the ABVP said that it had planned to remove the memorial in a few days, university authorities allegedly removed the structure on Wednesday night itself.
Following this, the students returned on Thursday, and cemented the memorial.
"The initial plan was to keep it temporarily, but since the campus security removed it on the same day, we brought it back and fixed it. Now, we don't want to let them take it down. It has nothing to do with politics, and we wanted to remember our Kargil martyrs," he added.
Accusing the administration of going 'soft' on others for their memorials, Uday also warned that any move to remove the memorial would attract protests.
However, other student parties on campus allege that security officials were also present on Thursday, and cooperated with ABVP students, as they were installing the memorial.
Sai Yamarti, HCU President, SFI, said, "They (security) accompanied the people who installed the Kargil memorial, but erased the symbolic portraits of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh from campus. What is their motive behind it?"
"The entire thing (re-installation) was supported by university officials, as they even got protection. We don't have any issues with installing or allowing a memorial for Kargil martyrs. However, we want to know, why the administration hesitated to allow us to install a statue of Dr Ambedkar in the campus?" asks Dontha Prashanth, one of the scholars who was suspended by UoH along with Rohith Vemula in December 2015.
In July last year, a bust of Ambedkar went 'missing' from the shopping complex area of the varsity, with students alleging that it was removed at the behest of UoH Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile.
Wondering who 'stole' the Ambedkar bust, Prashanth also said, "We have deep respect for the great souls who sacrificed their life for the country, unlike these fake patriots who show off, and shout about nationalism from roof tops, but never join the army. Instead, they join large corporations and help them loot this country."
Students Union General Secretary and executive member of Dalit Students Union, Suman Damera said, "While we respect and honour our security forces, I would like to ask these fake nationalists why they are not holding any condolences or remembrance meetings for the people who are losing their lives in mob lynchings, for exercising their choice and culture."
"Recently, Dalits in Telangana were tortured for standing against the sand mafia, which is a threat to our natural environment. Why didn't they stand with them? Can they say that they aren't fighting for the welfare of this country?" he asked.
Meanwhile, Chief Security Officer T V Rao said, "They installed the memorial without prior permission, due to which we removed it on the same day. However, they re-installed it forcefully on Wednesday, and did not listen to us."
"The issue was taken to higher authorities, and the university plans to remove all unauthorised structures from the campus soon. There were no cases filed against anyone, and the administration will solve the problem within its purview," he added.