An independent interim fact-finding team states that the administration has many skeletons in its closet.
As the situation of complete lockdown continues unabated for a fourth day at Hyderabad Central University premises, an independent national fact-finding team has tried unearthing the details of what’s going on at the campus. The team, comprising several eminent members of civil society (details below), however, had to face immense difficulty and absolute non-cooperation from the university administration, including the vice-chancellor, the registrar and the chief security officer, as well as from the sections of students and faculty members showing clear support for the “reinstated” VC Podile Appa Rao.
The team has found that neither was the re-entry of the tainted VC, who is currently under investigation and is charged with SC/ST Atrocities Act of 1989, “sudden”, nor was the “escalation of violence” not pre-empted. This scripted theatre of fabricated violence (hardly bythe students, but most visibly, on the students and faculty members, by the state police and by students belonging to a particular political faction) is exactly what the administration wanted to play out.
Please read the full report below.
|Students and Telangana police officials at loggerheads at HCU. [Photo credit: PTI]|
DATE OF THE FACT FINDING: March 24 – 25, 2016
MEMBERS OF THE FACT FINDING TEAM:
Henri Tiphagne, Human Rights Defenders Alert, India;
Tara Rao, Amnesty International;
Burnard Fatima, International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism;
Kuffir Nalgundwar, Round Table India;
Kiruba Munusamy, Supreme Court Lawyer;
Beena Pallical, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights;
Ramesh Nathan, National Dalit Movement for Justice;
Asha Kowtal, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch;
Paul Divakar, Asia Dalit Rights Forum.
MANDATE OF THE FACT FINDING TEAM:
- To ascertain and understand the sequence of events that led to the escalation of violence on March 22 at Hyderabad Central University (HCU).
- To identify the human rights violations that transpired as a result of the events.
- To contribute towards a restoration of normalcy, peace and an environment of non-discrimination in the university campus by making key recommendations to the concerned parties – the university administration, the central government, the state government and university students and faculty.
|Students protesting at HCU. [Photo credit: Facebook/Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, UoH]|
The team, comprising senior activists, academicians and lawyers, has met with the students, faculty members, the police, the home minister and local civil society organisations. The team will be presenting a more detailed report at a later date based on the compiled narratives and testimonies. This team was constituted as a response to the terrifying news of the escalation of violence at HCU on March 22, 2016.
The FF team had taken several efforts to fix appointments with the HCU officials and in particular with the vice-chancellor, Dr Appa Rao, the registrar and the chief security officer.
- In spite of formal letters being handed over, the VC had after taking a lot of time and communicating with the FF team [made to sit outside the HCU campus] finally refused to meet the FF team and directed the FF team to communicate with the professor–in-charge, public relations and official spokesperson of the HCU that he had appointed the day before.
- When this professor-in-charge, Mr Vipin Srivastava [the previously appointed VC in charge when Dr Appa Rao was to proceed on long leave, but who could not take charge since he did not enjoy the trust of the faculty and students, and hence, Professor Periasamy had to take charge] was contacted, he responded by stating that he could not meet the FF team but only speak to them on the phone.
- The same was the result of the FF team’s effort to meet the registrar and the chief security officer, conveying clearly that all the senior functionaries of the HCU were in no mood to discuss the happenings in the HCU under any circumstances.
- This also explains why the FF team was not allowed, by the HCU security officers who were manning the main gate of the university, to even enter the university campus.
- A sense of fear was amplified with the order, passed by the office of the registrar dated March 23, preventing the entry of outside persons viz. print and electronic media and political, social and student groups/individuals into the campus – due to the prevailing extraordinary situation on the university campus.
- We are of the strong opinion that this was only an effort to keep the university as a closed “fortress” with no external visitor allowed to meet the faculty or students on campus and see for themselves the place of occurrence of the campus violence let loose on March 22, 2016.
- This further reveals that the officials of the University of Hyderabad had more to hide than reveal in the violence on its campus on March 22, 2016.
The team was able to meet with representatives from the student community, faculty, the police (DCP K Kartikeyan, ACP and inspector), the state home minister.
|Protests on #JusticeforRohith against Appa Rao. [Photo credit: Facebook/ Amar Khade]|
Key interim findings:
- The vice-chancellor Mr Podile Appa Rao has a registered case pending against him under SC ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act 1989 in connection with Rohith Vemula’s suicide. No action has been taken in this regard.
- His unexpected re-entry into the campus was pre-planned with details chalked out with his supporter students and faculty, which triggered the escalation of violence.
- What has been the role of the MHRD in his reinstatement and this process was not transparent.
- Interim situation: It was established that the university was working smoothly and with regularity in the interim phase, while Professor Periasamy was the vice chancellor. The routine at the university was maintained, including the proceedings within the university’s Academic Council. Students and faculty have confirmed their satisfaction. Even during the indefinite leave of Mr Appa Rao, the students association, faculties and various political parties continue their struggle within the campus with various demands.
- It has also been observed that the Union minister (and BJP member of Parliament) Bandaru Dattatreya and Susheel Kumar (member of ABVP) also have not been arrested despite being booked for non-bailable offences. This inaction of the state has not been explained, while the central government has contributed to this situation.
- Disruption of campus life: The return of the vice-chancellor, Appa Rao, who had proceeded on indefinite leave, has triggered the disruption of peace on campus. According to the state home minister, VC Appa Rao expressed a desire to the minister to return to the campus, even though he was strongly advised against it by the police commissioner and the home minister himself, saying that it would cause possible disruption of university life. In spite of the state home ministry’s advice, VC Appa Rao chose to return to the university.
- Role of the police: People arrested were not presented before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law.
- Women students: Widespread assault of women students and abusive language and threats to rape them were heard from the police. Also targeted statements towards minority students and describing them as “terrorists” were also heard.
- The police could have given bail but the students and faculty were remanded in judicial custody.
The fact-finding team gives the following recommendations in restoring the normalcy and peace in the university:
- In the best academic and interest and in order to restore a peaceful environment in the university, as well as to ensure a fair investigation, the FF Team recommends that the vice-chancellor Mr Appa Rao be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
- Police needs to step up their response in dealing with the cases filed (VC, and student arrests) with efficiency and due legal process both in the case of the VC and the arrested students.
- Normalcy at the university campus must be restored immediately. Free mobility in and out of the university must be brought back to ensure regular functioning. This is essential for the academic health of the university, which has suffered significantly.
- Criminal investigation should be immediately conducted and action should be taken against the police who have wilfully neglected their duty under Section 4 of the SC ST PoA Amendment Act 2016.
- Recommendation to the state government is that it should play a facilitating role in bringing back normalcy to the campus.
- The central government must swiftly and efficiently ensure a smooth transition of the leadership of the university in the best interest of the primary objective of the university of academic excellence by replacing the vice chancellor in close consultation with the university students and facultyhttp://www.dailyo.in/politics/hcu-crackdown-podile-appa-rao-rohith-vemula-suicide-dalit-politics-sc-st-atrocities-act-savarna-media-fact-finding-team-abvp-caste/story/1/9727.html