Hyderabad: Tension mounted at Hyderabad University on Tuesday morning as students broke into Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile’s official residence and vandalised the premises. Furious students staged a protest against his resumption of duty after having been on long leave.
Podile, who is embroiled in a controversy over the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula, resumed office on Tuesday.
Appa Rao, who went on indefinite leave in the last week of January, had called for a press conference, which was cancelled due to the protests.
The agitating students raised slogans against the VC. They broke window panes, smashed doors and television among other items.
"He is the main culprit in Rohith's death and everyone knows that. The case is still pending in court. Without informing anyone, he joined back and called an executive council meeting. Only deans and nominated people should be attending the meetings but some students are also present inside," a student said.
A minor scuffle broke out between agitating students and a group of ABVP activists, injuring one student. Cyberabad police was rushed to the spot to provide protection to the VC.
University of Hyderabad Joint Action Committee members alleged that many RSS and Bajrang Dal activists are guarding the VC’s office and residence.
“The office is guarded by RSS, Bajrang Dal activists from outside the university. They are not students. They are stopping us from meeting the VC. We want to talk to him,” said D. Prashant, who was leading the protest.
The agitating students demanded to talk to the VC but police advised against it.
Appa Rao went on leave on January 24 following protests over suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula on the campus.
26-year-old Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula who hanged himself in Hyderabad Central University campus in January, was suspended from his hostel by the HCU administration in August last year for allegedly attacking an ABVP leader.
In August 2015, Bandaru Dattatreya had written to Smriti Irani alleging that Hyderabad University had become ‘a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.’ He cited the attack on ABVP leader and stated that the university administration had turned into ‘a mute spectator to such events.’
Students of the university alleged that Dattatreya's letter sought action against research scholars including Vemula.
Dattatreya, Appa Rao and two others were booked for ‘abetting’ the suicide of Dalit research scholar who was banned from the university’s hostel.
Meanwhile, Appa Rao hit out at the group of students, who allegedly ransacked his official residence, and said they should have represented their issues in a ‘democratic way’.
"This is gross violence. Students resorting to this kind of violence...without following some democratic processes...it's really unfortunate for the education system. Students must know the democratic way of representing their issues," Professor Podile said.
"They should not disturb somebody performing their function. I have joined as Vice-Chancellor...resumed charge and I should be allowed to function. They should have held discussions. Without discussions, they have ransacked the VC's bungalow," he said.
Podile said thousands of students and hundreds of faculty members are ‘worried about this kind of situation’ on the campus, indicating that they want normalcy in the university.
The VC said he does not know for what purpose a group of students is demanding his resignation.
"Let them explain more clearly. What is the mistake that I have done. Let it be proved in court. Let somebody prove that. Without proving somebody guilty and you make demand with some 50-100 students in a 5,000 student university. How long can we run the university like this?" he said.
He said police and several faculty members along with students protected him today, otherwise there would have been a ‘security problem’....