Hyderabad University row: NHRC seeks reports from HRD, Telangana govt on 'emergency-like' situation in HCU
The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that there is an emergency like situation in Hyderabad University — where there is no water, electricity, food, internet services and ATMs are out of order
Taking notice of media reports that there is an emergency like situation in Hyderabad University, the National Human Rights Commission on Friday issued notices to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, Telangana government and the Hyderabad Police Commissioner seeking reports from them within a week.
NHRC acted on news reports that there is no water, electricity, food, internet services and working ATMs within the campus.
"The Commission has observed that the arbitrary act and high handedness of senior University officials as well as Police and Administrative officers, as reported in media, raise serious concerns towards safety and security of the students," a NHRC release said.
"A team of Human Rights defenders comprising of senior activists, academicians and lawyers have met students and teachers at the university to ascertain the real facts of the incidents that took place at the campus. The team is also trying to identify the human rights violations and resolve the situation by making key recommendations to the concerned parties, " was identified as one of the key mandate in the report of the independent national fact finding team by NCDHR.
One of the key findings in the report was, "The return of the Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao, who had proceeded on indefinite leave triggered the disruption of peace on campus. According to the Home Minister, VC Appa Rao had expressed desire to the Minister to return to the campus and was strongly advised against it by the Police Commissioner and the home Minister, saying that it would cause disruption of University. In spite of the Home Ministry's advice he chose to return to the university."
Another key finding was, "Widespread assault of women students and abusive language and threats to rape the women students were heard from the police. Also targeted statements towards minority students and describing them as 'terrorists'was also heard."
One of the recommendation made by the team was, "The Central Government must swiftly and efficiently ensure a smooth transition of the leadership of the University in the best interest if the primary objective of the University of Academic Excellence by replacing the Vice Chancellor in close consultation with the University students and Faculty. Also criminal investigation should be immediately conducted and action should be taken against the police who have willfully neglected their duty under Section 4 of the SC ST PoA Amendment Act 2016."
A member of the team, Tara Rao, Amnesty International India, said "Students have a right to peacefully protest. Arrests of peaceful protesters violate India's obligations under international law. the arrest of the students and holding them for almost 24 hours without giving any information about their status is in breach of numerous international human rights standards including the UN Body if Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment."
On 23 March, the office of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile was vandalised by group of students after which the above-mentioned arrests were made. The university authorities also prevented JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar from entering the campus to address the students agitating over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula's mother had demanded immediate unconditional release of the 25 students and two faculty members of Hyderabad Central University, on Friday. "We demand immediate and unconditional release of all those who were arrested and sent to jail, and withdrawal of cases against them. They (students) were asking for justice for Rohith (during the protest near VC's lodge)...but were beaten up brutally by police," Rohith's mother Radhika and brother Raja, along with HCU teachers and parents of some of the arrested students, told reporters.
According to an earlier Firstpost report, a five-member delegation led by JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid met with the Ministry of Human Resources Department secretary VS Oberoi and submitted their demands for the removal of police presence from the campus, the dropping of false charges against students and the removal of Appa Rao from the post of vice-chancellor of the university. "The top official told us that ministry cannot do anything about removal of the V-C as it comes under the purview of the Visitor. He also said that they can't intervene on the issue of police presence as interventions are not being taken in a good manner," she said.
Tensions have been mounting in the campus ever since the death of Rohith Vemula, 26, who hanged himself in Hyderabad Central University campus after he was suspended from his hostel in August last year for allegedly attacking an ABVP leader.