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Universities running scared of student protests against CAA

Published Jan 2, 2020, 1:22 am IST
Updated Jan 2, 2020, 1:42 am IST
The university claims this has been done in view of ongoing construction and renovation work in the hostels.
Student organisations protest against the CAA and the NRC at Arts College in Osmania University campus on Wednesday.  (S. Surender Reddy)
 Student organisations protest against the CAA and the NRC at Arts College in Osmania University campus on Wednesday. (S. Surender Reddy)

Hyderabad: Students of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) on Wednesday staged a protest on campus against the management for suddenly closing down the varsity until January 20. Even the hostels have been closed down until January 17.

The university claims this has been done in view of ongoing construction and renovation work in the hostels. However, the student community claims this was to clamp down on any possible protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).


The notification that the university would be closed was published only on Monday night, just a day before the hostels were to be reopened after a month-long holiday. The varsity also said it would reimburse the students’ train and bus tickets.

A research scholar who was among the protesters said, “It is clear that the university management doesn't want us to stage any protests. This is the only reason why they would close everything down for renovations.”

He said the EFLU management has always been wary of protests. "A few weeks ago, after the Jamia Milia crackdown, a woman student staged a solo-protest on the university lawn, holding a placard. After a while, many students joined. Since then we have held many protests against CAA. One of these protests had only five students but the proctor called the police immediately. It was a bizarre sight —the police outnumbered the students,” he said.


The research scholars have said the order asking them to leave the campus was akin to an eviction notice. "We live and work here. It is similar to a full-time job. How can we drop everything and go away? Also, some of my friends just came home from a vacation. How can they go back immediately?" The management has reportedly told students to book train tickets as soon as possible. They were told "we will call the Railway ministry to get the tickets confirmed".

It may be noted that EFLU vice-chancellor E Suresh Kumar had recently written an opinion piece in a major English newspaper in support of CAA. Mr Kumar had said: 'It is an Act that helps define who we really are as a nation and a people.'


Other students claimed that EFLU has always been uncomfortable with protests by students. However, the move to shut down the university to quell dissent is unprecedented, said a student.

The management has apparently promised a slew of renovation work across the university. "They have said they will paint (internally and externally) the entire campus, renovate all bathrooms in the hostel and also an amphitheatre. Before this notice, we weren't aware of any of these things. And how will they do this all within just two weeks?" asked the research scholar.


On Tuesday, in an attempt to pacify the protesting students, the management released a list of works it intended to complete before January 17. This list, a copy of which is available with Deccan Chronicle, includes the construction of a 500-capacity amphitheatre, installation of six lifts in various buildings, a new drain pipeline, construction of a pharmacy, bakery and fast-food outlets, re-carpeting roads across the campus, among others. There are 26 items on this list. This document was given to the students, butt not surprisingly, it did not have the signature of any university official.


After Wednesday’s protest, Vice chancellor Suresh Kumar agreed to meet with a handful of students. Mr Kumar is reported to have categorically denied any relief. He is also reported to have said to some protestors: “You do too much research. This is why you have so many questions” — a shocking thing for any educationist to say if it is true.

A member of the EFLU student's union said they hadn't yet decided on the next course of action.

EFLU officials could not be reached for comment. Multiple attempts to reach them went unanswered.


‘Mass pledge’ at Osmania
Nearly 100 people, including students, gathered in front of the Arts College at Osmania University on Wednesday to read the Preamble to the Indian Constitution and pledged to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) until it is withdrawn.

The event was part of a countrywide ‘mass pledge’ movement by the Young India National Coordination Committee, with similar events taking place in many cities and towns on the same day. In Hyderabad, there was participation from many student unions — SFI, AISF, AISA, PDSU, DSU and TVV — along with the general public. The participants gathered in a semicircle. Many held placards calling for Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to oppose NAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). One of them read ‘KCR be a star, oppose NRC, CAA, NPR’ while another read ‘KCR stop NPR’.


A reading of the Preamble by Gali Vinod Kumar, associate professor, OU College of Law was followed by a reading of a 'pledge' the participants had written. Through this pledge, they resolved to not show or submit their documents to prove their citizenship for NRC or NPR in 2020.

They also resolved to “campaign and convince” others to not give any information to officials who might come for it.

Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad