When University of Hyderabad turned into a battleground

Mona Ramavat
Mona RamavatMar 24, 2016 | 22:32

When University of Hyderabad turned into a battleground

If an emotion barometer was placed at the University of Hyderabad, the last couple of days would have seen a severe shooting up of anger. Enough to prompt a small crowd, unhappy with vice-chancellor Appa Rao's return to office, to vandalise the office itself, on Tuesday (March 22). The broken glass and chaos around the office spoke of the utter rejection of everything that Appa Rao stood for.


If you went by a statement allegedly made by Rohith Vemula's (the Dalit student who committed suicide in January) mother, who was holding a sit-in outside the campus, the V-C is, first and foremost, a murderer. "Vice-chancellor Appa Rao killed my son. Why is he back?" she is supposed to have said.

On March 23, before being taken into judicial custody along with 27 others who were allegedly involved in vandalising the V-C's office, Rohith's friend and joint action committee (JAC) member D Prashant said, "The vice-chancellor Appa Rao has been brought back to fuel an atmosphere of tension in the campus. The intention of the BJP in bringing him back to the university clearly shows that it wants to kill more and more Dalit students."

Protests were held across the country following Rohith Vemula's suicide. 

Strong words those, from Prashant, who was one of the five students, who along with Rohith, was expelled from the university last year. He also went on to say that BJP leader and Union minister Venkaiah Naidu has been supporting the V-C "openly", simply because "both Appa Rao and Venkaiah Naidu happen to belong to the Kamma community, which is a dominant caste."


With constant reminders of the caste factor coming up at every juncture, big or small, it feels as if there's a machinery working to ensure it never stays too far off from the public consciousness.

Is it to accentuate divides further, or create some fresh ones? We wonder. What would the stand of the agitators have been, for instance, if the V-C was Dalit too, and still took the same action against the five students last year, based on protocols and procedural requirements?

The anti-BJP mood too has been lingering on in everything, including the address by JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, who was on a two-day visit to Hyderabad.

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was not allowed inside the HCU campus.

Since he was not allowed inside the campus on Wednesday, he addressed the media and a small group of students outside the gates. His short but charged speech held an "inqlab zindabad" kind of flavour when he said, "Lathi chalakar, hamare upar dande markar, hum logon ko hospital pahuchakar, aap humari awaz ko nahi daba sakte." (You cannot silence us by beating us up and sending us to the hospital.) While some treated him as a hero, some sloganeered against him as well.


Earlier on Thursday, a shoe or two were flung at Kanhaiya when he was addressing a press conference, apparently by a member of a cow protection group. These didn't find their target, but the message was clear. Not everyone is in favour of these ideas of dissent. "We don't support anti-nationals," is what the attacker is supposed to have said before he was taken away by the police.

The question is how will all of this anger show up in the time to come? For how long will university campuses, in particular, remain this high on angst, with precious study time being lost too, especially for those students who would rather remain neutral? What will be the impact of these sudden and disruptive fluctuations on the emotion barometer?

Last updated: March 26, 2016 | 13:27
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