UK-based scholars express solidarity with Hyderabad University students, staff

Submitted by Kumuda on Sun, 2016-03-27 11:18 New Delhi: Some concerned UK-based scholars have expressed their solidarity over the police brutality on the students and faculty members of the Hyderabad University, which took place on March 22. Subir Sinha of School of Oriental and African Studies from the University of London, Rashmi Varma from the University of Warwick, Alpa Shah from the London School of Economics, Jen Lerche, Alessandra Mezzadri and Navtej Purewal from the University of London wrote the petition. In the petition, the scholars expressed shock and dismay over the incident and condemned the police presence on the campus and other atrocities against the students. "We, the undersigned, who are UK-based concerned scholars, express our deep dismay over the police brutality directed at students and faculty members of Hyderabad Central University, starting on March 22, 2016. We are alarmed that students and staff calling for justice at the University have had charges pressed against them, have been disappeared from the campus and that there are reports of assaults on them in custody. We condemn the police presence on campus, the authorities' denial of water, electricity, and food to those remaining in student accommodation, and the brutal attack on a PhD scholar for cooking in University premises," the petition reads. The scholars further stated that these actions coming in the aftermath of events culminating in the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, project a 'severe assault' on the democratic rights of free expression and thought. "They go against the very purpose of universities as places for critical thinking, and damage the international reputation of HCU. As scholars who admire the work of many academic colleagues and alumni at HCU, we are concerned that HCU seems to be fast descending into a campus of unrestrained repression of dissenting voices among students and staff," it added. The scholars urged Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao and other varsity authorities to get rid off the police on campus, to protect its students and staff who have been held in custody and have had charges pressed against them, to bring normalcy to campus, and to assure its staff and students that their freedoms, dignity and rights would always be respected. The return of Appa Rao sparked fresh trouble in the varsity on March 22 as a group of agitating students barged in and ransacked his official residence in protest, alleging that he was responsible for Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula's suicide and should step down from his post. The police arrested as many as 25 students and two faculty members in this connection for their alleged vandalism. Rao had gone on long leave after Vemula committed suicide following his suspension from the hostel along with some other students of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) as part of disciplinary action in January. (ANI)