The students claim that the administration is obstructing the talks hosted by other student groups, but allowing ABVP to organise talks and discussions, including on Article 370.

University of Hyderabad allowing talks held only by ABVP allege students
news Campus Thursday, August 22, 2019 - 08:24

Angry after the Cyberabad police barged into a classroom at the University of Hyderabad, and detained students for screening a documentary Ram ke Naam, the student community is agitating against the administration. Accusing the campus of bias and of stifling their voices, several students’ organisations have come together to protest against the varsity. The student groups barring the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and its ally Other Backward Classes Federation, called for a protest on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, All India Students’ Association (AISA) had organised the screening of Ram ke Naam – a documentary by Anand Patwardhan. The documentary was about the campaign of Vishwa Hindu Parishad to construct a Ram temple at the site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. However, claiming that the students did not have permission for the screening, the administration had sought police intervention. The police stormed into the classroom confesticated the laptop and detained students who resisted their efforts.

Update: After students allege bias towards ABVP, University of Hyderabad refutes charges

The police action was unanimously condemned by all the students groups including the Students’ Union led by ABVP-OBCF. 

Following this ruckus, the student groups have alleged that the administration is showing a clear bias by allowing only ABVP to host discussions and programmes, while the others are being denied the same. 

Read: Police stop screening of 'Ram ke Naam' documentary at University of Hyd, detain students

On August 13, a group of students from Social Sciences Forum and Abhiyaan – a study circle, had planned a panel discussion on Article 370 titled ‘Kashmir: 370 and Beyond’. The panel included Prof Kham Khan Suan Hausing, Dr G Vijay and Dr Masrook Ahmad Dar. The event was supposed to be held in the Humanities auditorium, for which the permission was granted. However, shortly before the discussion began, the authorities allegedly revoked the permission, without citing any valid reason. 

However, the administration had given permission to the ABVP’s talk on the same subject titled ‘Article 370 Bharat as it is’ by Sushil Pandit, a couple of days later, and ensured its smooth functioning, say protesting students. 

Students allege that the discrimination by the administration is evident in nature. Further, they also claimed the constant police presence in the campus is worrying.

“There is constant police surveillance in the campus as if we are criminals,” said Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association president, Hadif Nisar, “Are they trying to create a fear psychosis among the students?”

Alleging that the varsity is trying to avoid discussions which might upset the BJP, he said, “Educational institutions are supposed to encourage discussions and talks even if it makes the current dispensation uncomfortable. Why is the administration scared of watching films? These tactics are only to avoid discussions.”

He said that the administration should withdraw their rule of mandatory permission for events. “Why should students need permission for a talk or a screening? The administration has become very authoritative. Today they are asking permission for talks and soon enough they will ask permission to come in or go out of university.”

Faseeh Ahmed, president of the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) alleged, “The administration has been very selective in its approach to giving permission to hold talks or discussions. While the ABVP has organised three events regarding the same subject, no other student organisations were given the permission. If we go ahead with the programme, they are calling in police or security to obstruct the events. Three such events have been disrupted by the security in the last two weeks.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Students’ Union had called for an all party meeting. However, many student organisations like AISA, DSU, SFI, SIO have snubbed their call.

“When the students were protesting against the detention of students, the ABVP members were provoking us and raised counter slogans. They were cheering for the detention of their fellow students, then how can we participate in the meeting and what purpose does it serve?” Faseeh asked.

“There is no democracy in the campus, and the Students’ Union proved to be a failure, as they couldn’t even side with fellow students and speak in their interest,” said Abishek Nandan, SFI general secretary. 

University’s statement on the allegations

Meanwhile, in view of the tense situation prevailing in the university, the Vice-Chancellor Podile Appa Rao held a review meeting about the sequence of events that led to police intervention in the campus.  

Offering clarification on the police intervention in the campus, the administration claimed that they had denied permission for the screening in their auditorium after they realized that the event was held by a student organization. They claimed that school spaces would not be allowed for student organizations to organize their political events.

“Subsequently, the students seem to have tried to screen the film in one of the lecture halls of a department, whose administrators were given to believe that this was being done students of their own department.  This was when the University security tried to convey to the students that they had no permission to use the space for the event,” the university said through a press release.

The release further added, “Students were apparently agitated and started heckling and abusing the security staff. Afraid that the situation would spin out of control, the security called the police for support. The police intervention seemed to have resulted in the cessation of the activity and police personnel detained and took a few of the students to the police station. Almost immediately, the University informed the police that they would not press charges against the students and would deal with the issue through internal processes.”

Responding to the allegations of bias, they said, “We have always welcomed the spirit of debate, dialogue, and discourse on our campus, whether initiated by our academic units or by various student groups, irrespective of their ideologies.”

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