Police arrested several students who attempted to force their way into the University of Hyderabad while demanding the ouster and arrest of vice-chancellor Appa Rao on Wednesday. The agitators were physically bundled into waiting police vans and whisked away from the scene.
Some students of Osmania University also staged a flash protest in front of the official residence of Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao to demand Appa Rao’s removal. However, police took them into custody and cleared the area.
Earlier in the day, security was stepped up on the university campus in view of a Chalo HCU call as well as a protest organised by the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JACSJ) – an umbrella group of 14 student bodies – against an academic council meeting presided by Appa Rao. The JACSJ, which does not recognise Rao as the university vice-chancellor, took exception to him presiding over the meeting and called for a voluntary boycott of classes.
Though the council meet was supposed to be held at the School of Life Sciences auditorium, its venue was shifted to VC Lodge in view of the Chalo HCU movement.
Members of student groups such as the Students’ Federation of India, Progressive Democratic Students Union and All India Democratic Students Organisation responded to the JACSJ’s call, but were stopped at the main gate because a ban on the entry of outsiders remained in force. However, some of them tried to break through the security cordon and climb the gate.
The agitators were heard raising slogans against Appa Rao as well as Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya.
In another development, controller of examinations Professor V Krishna reportedly resigned from his post and walked out of the academic council meeting in an expression of solidarity with the students demanding Appa Rao’s removal.
Cyberabad police had erected barricades and deployed additional personnel to prevent protesting students from heading towards VC Lodge.
The council meeting coincided with the Chalo HCU movement called by the group to protest the “violence unleashed on students” ever since Appa Rao returned as its vice-chancellor on March 22. It has asked everybody sympathetic to the cause – from students to activists – to undertake a march to the university for condemning the police action and the continued lockdown of the campus.
The JACSJ is demanding the immediate removal and arrest of Appa Rao in view of a case registered against him under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in January, following the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula. The students’ group pointed out that the vice-chancellor had not been granted anticipatory bail by the court, though he had approached it six times.
A two-member inquiry commission set up by the Union ministry of human resources development had blamed Vemula’s death on the vice-chancellor as well as the university administration. The JACSJ contends that in view of the ongoing judicial probe, Appa Rao should be removed from his post to prevent him from tampering with material evidence.
(With PTI inputs)