Hyderabad: There was utter confusion at Osmania University on Thursday when hundreds of women dressed in yellow saris with red borders flocked the Arts College. The women comprised Shiva Sathulu, village priests and Bahujan priests of Maisamma and similar temples.
The women were members of Bahujan Pujarula Sangama Seva Samiti, who had been informed that they could meet Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao and MLA-elect Balka Suman and request them for pension.
When they found no one there, they staged a protest on the road and creating a traffic jam in front of Arts College. Police personnel, who were taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of the women, later cordoned off the road to allow traffic to move. The women were later persuaded that they would not be able to meet any leader, and sent home.
It turned out that they were called by a research scholar, Dr Jaya Shankar, for a cultural fest, ‘Ancient Culture Research Feast with Shiva Sathulu and Rural Goddess Priests’ for his research. The arrangements were made by samiti president D. Babu Rao.
Ms Sujatha, one of the samiti members from Suryapet district, said, “We were called here by Babu Rao. About 2,000 Shiva Sathulu have come from all over the state. Our main demand was identification. The government has to recognise us on par with Brahmin priests and provide us with welfare schemes like pensions.”
Ms Rajamma, another Shiva Sathulu, said, “Bonalu does not start until we lift the first bonalu. We have been neglected and discriminated. We pray for the people and fast for three days a week but we are not recognised as priests.”
Mr Babu Rao told this newspaper, “Our main demand is to be recognised on par with the other priests.”
He claimed they had met TRS MP K. Kavitha and former minister Etala Rajender also. “KCR promised to meet us. Due to his busy schedule he was unable to attend,” he claimed.
Research scholar Jaya Shankar said, “I invited them for the fest to study them for my research. They were misinformed by the organisation members that there was a meeting and they were going to meet some political leaders.”
The university clarified that no permission had been given for a meeting. OU Vice-Chancellor Prof. S. Ramachandram said a large number of people, mostly women, were persuaded by “self styled” leaders from nearly 16 districts to gather in large numbers on the Arts College premises.
Prof. Ramachandram warned such leaders not to use the university precincts for personal gains and non-academic issues. “Any activity other than academics will not be allowed in the University premises, and we will not hesitate to initiate legal action in this regard,” he said....