The row over the removal of the Velivada on the campus of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) took yet another turn as students and the administration filed police complaints against each other. On Monday, UoH registrar P Sardar Singh lodged a complaint with the Gachibowli police, alleging that students damaged the university’s property by carrying out digging work. In response, the students filed a complaint against Vice Chancellor Podile Apparao on Tuesday.
“On January 4, Vice Chancellor Podile Apparao passed an order alleging that we have destroyed the university floor by digging university property by erecting a temporary shed with banners, flexis etc, without adhering to the instructions of the security personnel on duty, which is utterly false,” the complaint by the students, to the Gachibowli Police Station, states.
The Velivada (Dalit Ghetto) was a temporary structure in the campus, which was erected after research scholar Rohith Vemula was suspended along with his four friends from their hostel in 2015. The temporary structure under a tent had portraits of anti-caste icons like Jyotirao Phule, Savitribai, Dr BR Ambedkar, Periyar, Ayyankali and others. After Rohith’s suicide, which sparked a massive Dalit movement across the country, his bust was installed next to the tent. The Velivada has been a symbol of resistance for Dalit and other marginalised community students on campus.
The Velivada has been in the news again, since the administration’s decision to pull it down last week.
In their complaint, the students alleged that the portraits were “disrespectfully and disgracefully destroyed”, which caused “disharmony and unrest among SC/ST students, who hold all the above leaders in high esteem.”
“It is therefore requested to your good office to receive this complaint and register a case against Apparao for passing intentional, malicious orders leading to false, frivolous and misconceived litigations to malign and cause annoyance to us with an intent to destroy our careers forever,” the complaint stated.
While a case has been registered under Section 427(Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the IPC against the students on the university’s complaint, the police is yet to act on the complaint filed by the students.
“We made a general diary entry of the complaint. We have to first see if the removed constructions at the shopping complex were built with varsity permission or not. Since vice-chancellor is the custodian of the university, we will verify all facts and proceed further,” an investigating official was quoted as saying.