Students at Hyderabad Central University have been protesting since August 21 after six students were arrested for screening Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Ram ke Naam.
While the police reportedly released the student after detaining them, agitations continue over the administration’s press statement – issued on August 21 – which stated that the college has always been welcoming of debate and dissent and has also invited Patwardhan for multiple events in the past.
It describes the series of events that lead to the detention of the students who were later released after interrogation. The administration – immediately after the arrest – told the police that the issue will be resolved through the university’s internal mechanism and that the police is deployed only under extreme circumstances.
“There are robust internal mechanisms, including negotiations and dialogues initiated by the DSW’s (Dean, Student Welfare) Office and campus security to deal with minor scuffles and protests by students. It is only under extreme provocation and apprehension of disturbance to peace on campus that the administration has had to resort to calling the police.”said the statement.
The statement said that the college has to follow due process while organising events and students must co-operate.
The students, however, have expressed dissatisfaction with the administration’s response and have posed further questions seeking clarification from their side.
The students said that the same press release was sent to Patwardhan, who said that the administration hasn’t invited him after the year 2014. He came to screen his film Jai Bhim Comrade in an event organised by the students, not the administration back then.
Besides, contrary to the administration’s claims that they asked the police not to press charges against the students, the police allegedly threatened them.
Furthermore, students describe different instances where the police have allegedly disrupted various other events held in the past.
Recently, when student bodies protested against the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A, the state police stormed the campus and, on August 7, imposed Section 144 in the Cyberabad area, students say.
While the imposition was revoked two days later, students say that discussions around the Kashmir issue didn’t go without police intervention in the days that followed.
For instance, on August 16, G. Haragopal was invited to talk on “Indian Democracy: Present and Future” but according to students, he was not allowed to enter the campus. In the same vein, yet another discussion on Article 370 organised by the college’s social science department was allegedly stopped by the police.
The administration has not responded to the contrary claims stated above as yet.
Featured image credit: PTI