In another instance of delivering "justice'' in the manner of a ‘Khap Panchayat’ at the University of Hyderabad, an NSUI leader and PhD scholar has been rusticated on charges of indiscipline and misconduct. The rusticated scholar was fined Rs 30,000 while two other scholars were fined Rs 10,000 each on the same charges.
Baikani Lingaswamy is a PhD student at Centre for Exclusion and Inclusion who has been rusticated, while Taher Jameel and Hakeem have been fined.
The University's Registrar issued this order following an inquiry by the Proctorial board. Asst. Prof Meera Padhy, who teaches at the Centre for Health Psychology had complained to the university authorities about alleged indiscipline and misconduct of Lingaswamy. Subsequently, the Proctorial board inquired into the matter.
As per the order, the rusticated student has to remain out of campus for a period of six months from the date of its issue.
In the last week of November, during December-January admission session, Baikani, Taher and Hakeem had gone to Centre for Health Psychology.
Nishma VM, a PhD aspirant from Kerala had been denied interview as she failed to provide a fresh OBC certificate. Baikani and the two other students had then appealed to the professor for exemption from immediate production of OBC certificate.
However, Nishma MV later couldn't make it to the PhD course. Several days later in the second week of January, Baikani and two others received a show-cause notice for their alleged indiscipline and misconduct based on a complaint by Prof Meera Padhy.
In a letter written to the University Vice Chancellor, Prof Meera Padhy claimed that Baikani led two others along with candidate Nishma to her cabin and had sought an explanation.
Speaking to TNM, Taher Jameel, one of the two students who has been fined said, “No such misconduct took place but we asked for one month time for submission of the OBC certificate."
The way the complaint has been filed against the students raises doubts, says Taher while adding, "Why is there a contradiction in the complainant’s claims? First they asked us to come as witnesses and then punished us with a fine of Rs 10,000."
He alleged that these charges have come in the wake of suspension of an ABVP leader on charges of making casteist remarks against Prof Laxmi Narayana of Department of Economics.
Taher alleged, "They deliberately concocted these charges without any prima facie proof."
University of Hyderabad’s Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Students Federation of India (SFI) and progressive Dalit student groups have reportedly met the Registrar seeking withdrawal of the order.
Prof Padhy has also claimed that Lingaswamy hurled abuses at her, besides making physically advances and behaving aggressively. (The complaint is in TNM’s possession).
Baikani Lingaswamy is a national coordinator in NSUI - the students’ body of the Congress party.
Baikani alleged that it was nothing but a witch-hunt by the university.
He said, "The incident happened on November 28 and we had only asked for an exemption and said that she could submit the OBC certificate at the time of admission, nothing was rude or abusive."
Baikani added, "This is all a manufactured case, they are framing charges selectively against students who are active during Justice For Rohith Vemula movement.”
He asks, ”When there is a complaint filed against anyone, he has to be given information within four days. Why did it take nearly 45 days to inform me about the complaint?”
Lingaswamy alleged that the university is targeting the questioning voices and his rustication is a clear case of witch-hunt.
Tahir said that the decision was biased and deliberate.
He alleged that the complaint is absurd and contradictory while pointing out, "In one letter, she (Prof Padhy) claimed that we haven't done anything but were present when the argument between Lingaswamy and her was taking place."
Students also allege that the timing of the notice to Lingaswamy raises doubts.