As unrest continued at the Hyderabad Central University, the university authorities on Wednesday prevented JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar from entering the campus to address the students agitating over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Kanhaiya, who came with Rohith's mother and brother to express solidarity with the students, was greeted with slogans for and against him at the gate. "I came from JNU to HCU to support Rohith Vemula's cause.....we will have to fulfill Rohith Vemula's dreams. And social justice has to be brought in the country. This Government is not listening to the voice of the students," he said.
"How many Rohiths will you kill," an agitated Kanhaiya asked in an apparent reference to the BJP-led government at the Centre. Students joined in with him, and shouted slogans against the government.
The University authorities, in the morning, issued a notification banning entry of outsiders including political parties, media and other social/student groups. They also suspended classes for four days. Kanhaiya, speaking outside the campus, called it "shameful".
"I blame university authorities and police. This fight is to save democracy and the Constitution. We will not tolerate attack on democracy. We want freedom from casteism and untouchability. We would not have disturbed the peace on the campus had we been allowed," he said.
Police had kept strict security at the main gate preventing non-students from entering. There were heated arguments between police and CPI leaders who accompanied Kanhaiya as police did not allow them in.
After arriving in Hyderabad, Kanhaiya said, "The government smartly made an issue of JNU to keep Rohit Vemula's issue under carpet. But we all know that even if we are different, we are one when it comes to saving justice in the nation. That's why as soon as I came out of jail, on behalf of JNUSU, I thought I would go to Hyderabad. My first visit outside Delhi would be Hyderabad," he said.
He said Vemula's mother is like "Bhagat Singh's mother" in the present circumstances. Though he was scheduled to address a meeting on the campus organised by JAC which spearheaded the agitation demanding justice for Vemula who committed suicide in a hostel room at HCU on 17 January, vice-chancellor Podile said nobody had approached for permission for the event.
"Nobody has approached for permission. Definitely, there is no permission," he told PTI.
As tension rose at HCU following the resumption of duty by Podile, whose removal from the post is a key demand of JAC, classes were suspended till March 26. "We have taken a decision not to allow any outsider, including mediapersons and political parties, on the campus," Registrar M Sudhakar said earlier in the day.
Podile, in the eye of a storm over Vemula's suicide, had proceeded on leave on 24 January.
When asked if the issue was being politicised, Podile today said he did not think so, adding that he did not attach any significance to Kumar's visit as "we have nothing to do with that boy".
"As far as our campus is concerned, I don't see same kind of polarisation," he said.
Student agitation against the ruling regime has seen a rise under the current government. Starting from students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), who protested against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, who according to the students of the institute was not a fit for the renowned organisation, as the chairman to the latest storm brewing at JNU — students across India have joined in the fight against, what they call 'dictatorship' and the attempt to murder democracy by the Narendra Modi government.
And it is far from over. Eighteen FTII students have been added to the list of those accused of holding the institute's director in his office on 17 August, 2015, taking the total number to 35.
While the JNU controversy has been in the limelight the last few days, trouble continues to brew at the FTII in Pune. On the evening of 10 March, police arrived on campus to to issue notices to students that a chargesheet would be filed against them in the sessions court on Monday, 14 March, PTI said.
Twenty-five students and two faculty members of Hyderabad Central University were arrested on Wednesday in connection with incidents of ransacking of vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile's lodge and stone pelting on police personnel, police told mediapersons.
According to Gachibowli police inspector J Ramesh, so far two cases have been booked on charges of damage to public property, trespass and preventing Government officials from performing their duties and other relevant sections of IPC in connection with Tuesday's incidents.
"27 persons were arrested in connection with both the incidents. 25 students and two faculty members," Ramesh told PTI.
All the accused will be produced in a court soon, he added. Kanhaiya, after landing in Hyderabad, blamed the government for blowing up the issue at JNU (of 'anti-national' slogans) only to divert attention from Rohith's suicide and its aftermath. The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice of HCU will carry on its struggle until the Centre brought 'Rohith Act', Kanhaiya said.
Meanwhile, general secretary Sitaram Yechury demanded immediate release of students and faculty members of Hyderabad Central University, arrested in connection with the attack on Appa Rao's official residence. Yechury, in a letter written to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, also alleged that police showed high-handedness as the students were deprived of water, access to wifi, and even food supply to hostel messes was stopped.
With inputs from agencies