Amnesty seeks probe into crackdown at Hyderabad varsity

Amnesty seeks probe into crackdown at Hyderabad varsity
Students and activists from different universities take part in a rally in New Delhi over the death of Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula. - AFP file

Hyderabad - The Amnesty International India has now demanded an independent investigation into the allegations of excessive use of force by the police during a recent crackdown.



By P S Jayaram

Published: Sun 27 Mar 2016, 8:43 PM

The row over the handling of student unrest at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), following the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, is snowballing into a national controversy.
The Amnesty International India has now demanded an independent investigation into the allegations of excessive use of force by the police during a recent crackdown.
The Amnesty International condemned the police crackdown on a "peacefully protesting group of students and faculty members" at the university campus on March 22.
In a statement here on Friday, the Amnesty demanded their immediate release. The Telangana police had used force to evict the agitating students and some faculty members and subsequently arrested them.

 Crackdown allegations> 25 students arrested earlier this week at Hyderabad university
> The Telangana police used force to evict the agitating students from the university campus
> Students charged with vandalising vice-chancellor's office
> Students' protest was against resumption of duties by the Vice-Chancellor P Appa Rao
> Parents say no information on arrests or updates after the arrest
The students and a section of the faculty were protesting against resumption of duties by the Vice-Chancellor P Appa Rao who is in the eye of a storm over Rohith's suicide.
The Joint Action Committee of students hold the VC responsible for creating circumstances that drove Raohith (26) to commit suicide by hanging in the hostel room. The VC was forced to proceed on leave in January last, amid storm over the suicide. He returned to work on Tuesday, triggering widespread protests in the campus.
"Violence against protesting students in a University cannot be justified under any circumstances. Allegations of sexual violence and threats by the police to women students must be investigated and those suspected of being responsible must be prosecuted," said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
"Male police brutally grabbed, molested, tossed and beat female students and faculties alike. Female faculties were grabbed by their hair and dragged into vans. Male students were swept inside the van and were beaten without mercy," the statement said quoting a student Vaikhari Aryat. As many as 25 students and two faculty members have been arrested for allegedly vandalizing the Vice-Chancellor's office and booked for rioting, criminal intimidation and damage to public property.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad MP and President of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi and the party legislator Ahmad Bin Abdullah visited the Cherlapally Jail here and met the UoH students and faculty jailed there.
Expressing solidarity with the students, Owaisi said that the controversial vice-chancellor must go to bring back normalcy to the campus. The Telangana Congress Chief Uttam Kumar Reddy and spokesperson D Sravan Kumar also met the jailed students.
The agitating students have been demanding removal of Appa Rao and prosecuting him under SC & ST Act. "One of our main demands is the sacking of Appa Rao. How can he come back to the campus? It is over two months since the tragedy happened but no action has been initiated," a student leader said and demanded that the VC be arrested immediately.
Rao was forced to go on leave on January 24 and in his place Prof M Periasamy was serving as the in-charge Vice-Chancellor. However, Rao's return to the campus triggered fresh trouble at the campus.
"Since in-charge VC was not empowered to take decisions on promotions and recruitments, I was asked to return," Rao said, justifying his return to the duties.
Though Rohith did not blame anyone in his suicide note, his friends, student organisations and opposition parties have blamed the culture of caste discrimination practiced by university authorities for the tragedy.
Rohith, who was an active member of Ambedkar Students Association, was suspended along with four other Dalit students following their scuffle with a rival student leader.
The agitating students alleged that the suspension and sustained humiliation had forced Rohith to end his life.
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