The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) condemns the brutal crackdown on students and teachers of the University of Hyderabad. The crackdown was on protestors in the University Campus. In January 2016, a research scholar, Rohith Vemula committed suicide after this scholarship was stopped and he was thrown out of the hostel following a protest organised by Ambedkar Students Association against the judicial killing of Yakub Memon. The five students thrown out of hostel all belonged to the Dalit community. The vice-chancellor who is responsible for this institutional murder went on a leave during the thick of the matter.
The vice-chancellor, Appa Rao re-joined on March 22nd 2016, despite a criminal case under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 filed against him. He joined calling upon media for a press conference announcing his return.
The student and teacher body protested against his re-joining as vice-chancellor. The protestors were brutally attacked by the police, male police officials physically assaulted female students, and they were lathi charged. Currently 36 students and 3 faculty members are detained in undisclosed locations and many students who were brutally injured during the attack are in different hospitals. 9 students are in judicial remand. They have no food or water served. At least 100 police officials continue to be on campus.
The Internet was disconnected on campus disallowing students to disseminate information on details of the attack or the status of the arrest. Thus isolating the students and teachers body from rest of the civil society.
NCDHR is anguished by the state apathy towards students from marginalised communities. This reflects the total apathy of the administration and the government towards the issue of exclusionary practices in higher education. The attack is not just on the student body and their right to dissent but gravely undermines democratic spaces and values as enshrined in the Constitution.
We demand –
- Immediate unconditional release of Prashant Dontha of Ambedkar Student Association, along with other 35 students and 3 faculty members.
- Immediately arrest and take action against the Vice-Chancellor under SC/ST PoA Act.
- The act of re-joining office by the VC, while the case is still in the process of investigation is aborting justice and scuttling it.
- Police to immediately leave University premises.
- Restoration of basic facilities to the student body.
- Students and teachers must be consulted in entire process.
- MHRD to ensure campuses are free from police brutality and violence.
- Government to immediately enact Rohith Act to act as a safeguard against exclusionary practices.
On behalf of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights,
Prof Vimal Thorat, Mr N Paul Divakar, Ms Asha Kowtal and Dr VA Ramesh Nathan