University of Hyderabad (UOH) is in news for the caste factor yet again. This time over the expulsion of five Dalit research scholars. Following the incident, students of the university are sleeping out in the open as a mark of protest and have asked the UOH to roll back the expulsion.
Students alleged that the penal action was taken against the five scholars based on a complaint by a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). On the other hand, the university administration said that these students had beaten up Susheel Kumar, a student belonging to the ABVP. This tussle between the administration and a section of students has created a tension on the campus.
The expelled students belong to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and they alleged that they were being victimised under political pressure from the BJP and right-wing outfits. They also termed the charges against them as false.
They said that the entire university administration is entrenched in casteism and those holding the top posts in the university are all RSS affiliates.
They also cited a 13-year-old incident, wherein Appa Rao Podile, current vice chancellor, as a warden of one of the hostels at the university had expelled 10 Dalit students. This proves that the prejudice against the Dalits goes a long way back.
The incident that led to the expulsion of the five research scholars happened in August 2015. The students of the ASA protested against the disruption of the screening of a film, Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai, by Nakul Singh Sawhney which shows the role of BJP leaders in inciting violence in the UP’s Muzaffarnagar district in 2013. Following this, an ABVP leader said in a post on Facebook that those involved in the protest are goons.
The ABVP leader had to render an apology to the students of the ASA over the post. The security officer, who witnessed the incident, gave a report to the Proctorial Board (disciplinary authority of the university) that the ABVP student was not subjected to any kind of violence.
However, the incident took a different turn, when the ABVP student later on alleged that he was manhandled by five students of the ASA. This prompted a BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao to intervene in the matter. Rao met the vice chancellor of the university and asked him to take stringent action against them.
Rao also termed these scholars anti-nationals for taking part in a previous protest organised by the ASA after the execution of Yakub Memon.
Following this an inquiry committee was formed by RP Sharma, former vice chancellor, headed by Alok Pandey, a professor of the university.
The findings of the committee stated, “The (proctorial) Board could not get any hard evidence of the thrashing of Susheel Kumar either from Krishna Chaitanya or from the reports submitted by Dr Anupama. Her reports also could not link or suggest that the surgery of Susheel Kumar is the direct result of the beating.” But surprisingly, the Proctorial Board contradicted the finding of the inquiry committee.
Proctorial Board said, “Based on the medical officer’s report (by Dr Anupama), main complainant Susheel Kumar’s deposition and his pictures, and the deposition of two eyewitnesses (names are kept confidential) of the incident, it was evident that Susheel Kumar was abused, manhandled, beaten and forced to write an apology letter by a group of more than 30 students led by Prashant.
“The main and most active students involved, named by the complainant and mostly confirmed by the eyewitnesses in abusing and hitting, are Prashant, Rohit, Seshu, Vijay and Sunkanna.”