The University of Hyderabad on January 18 sent an email to three students asking them to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000 each for organising a ‘Shaheen Bagh Night’ on campus on January 31 and February 1. The event, students say, was in solidarity with the ongoing women-led protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi.
The university has penalised Faseeh Ahmed E.K., Sahana Pradeep, and A.S Adish. While Ahmed is part of university’s student council, Pradeep and Adish are members of the Student Federation of India. The students allege that the university sent them the email without any prior information or issuing a showcase notice – as they do in other cases.
“For the last three months, the university has issued showcause notice to over five-six students, but this is the first time that we have received an email without any prior notice,” said Ahmed.
According to the Indian Express, the university’s registrar had issued an order dated February 18 warning students “to be cautious and focus on their studies in future”.
“The (three) students were involved in organising the ‘Shaheenbagh Night Event’ on January 31 from2 100hrs to 0230hrs on February 1 and also involved in painting graffiti and defacing the walls at the North Shopping Complex, in spite of instructions from the Security Personnel not to conduct the events as there was no permission to organise events after 2100hrs,” said the order.
As per the order, the amount has to be remitted to the Gurubaksh Singh Students Assistance Fund in finance and accounts, within ten days of serving notice.
Ahmed alleges that the university would not have allowed them to hold the protest if they had asked for a permission.
“They [administration] would have either not allowed or have asked us to hold it in the Ambedkar auditorium, which doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that the university has been actively trying different means to suppress student activism since the Centre scrapped Article 370. The protests, despite all intermittent disruptions, continue on the campus.
On August 6, 2019, the police allegedly dispersed students who had assembled to protest the reading down of Article 370, Livemint reported. Hours later, the college registrar P. Sardar Singh issued a circular stating that no protests or agitations would be allowed in the campus. However, students continued to hold talks and seminars on the issue.
On the night of January 31, the administration initially tried to stop the event but couldn’t do anything when a large number of students turned up, Ahmed said. The protest after Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad’s arrest also took place without any disruption from the administration, he added.
Students allege that the administration takes quick action when it comes to events centred around Muslim and Dalit communities and delays the procedures in other cases. “Last year, in Diwali, over seven Dalit students were allegedly attacked by ABVP members but the administration has still not taken any proper action against them. The students were bleeding but the administration didn’t do anything. And this time, we received the email within a week only for holding a solidarity protest. The procedures are clearly quick when it comes to Dalits and Muslims,” Ahmed said.
“We are not going to pay this amount [penalty],” he added.
The students are planning to hold another protest in the coming days.
Featured image credit: official website of University of Hyderabad