Osmania University centenary: Aadhaar must for entry, activists not amused

Say move to use biometrics linked with Aadhaar to screen invitees goes against varsity’s culture of openness, students’ right to access & SC’s orders on Aadhaar.

Published: 26th April 2017 05:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2017 06:16 AM   |  A+A-

Osmania University building has been illuminated for the centenary celebrations in Hyderabad on Tuesday | (R Satish Babu | EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: In perhaps a first, fingerprint scanning linked with Aadhaar data is being used as an entry mechanism for a private event. In this case, at the inauguration of centenary celebrations at Osmania University (OU)  in the city.

The varsity, expecting close to 20,000 participants including alumni, had made online registration mandatory and Aadhaar number was one of the requirements. The move has drawn criticism from activists.

In the run-up to the big day, authorities expected trouble from a section of students who have opposed the state government on various issues. OU students, till Tuesday when they met the vice-chancellor, were opposed to the visit of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

OU was a bedrock for the Telangana movement but Wednesday’s inaugural function will be the CM’s first visit to campus since state formation in 2014.

In the run-up to the inaugural, OU has turned into a fortress. A two-tier security set up arranged will see deployment of 3,500 police personnel in and around the venue. CCTV cameras have been installed all across the campus and will be monitored centrally. Invitees are required to carry invitation card, valid ID proof (employee ID Card/student ID/Aadhar Card)

“Only invitees are allowed. Students will have to swipe their Radio-frequency identification (RFID) linked identity cards, their photographs will be compared. OU has arranged provision for biometric verification of one’s identity. We have made available sufficient gadgets and personnel for the purpose,” said a senior police official.

For monitoring, the venue has been divided into sectors with separate blocks in each block. Separate entry, exit and parking arrangements are made for each block. There are 12 entry/exit points to the university. OU administration has prohibited cameras and photography equipment into the venue. Carrying helmets, mobile phones, bags, bottles, black flags, umbrellas, lighters, matchboxes, weapons, hazardous materials into the venue is also prohibited.

Bitter response

“It just shows the level of paranoia. OU has traditionally been very open and a genuine public institution. The use of surveillance mechanisms, including Aadhaar verification, being imposed with strong armsnationwidee, is part of a larger issue,” said Padmaja Shaw, a former journalism professor from the varsity.

Neeraj Arora, a cyber law and security expert practicing in the Supreme Court, said it is upon the university to adopt any procedure for security. “It depends on the institution as they are governed by their own bylaws. The security agencies can adopt this process of verification if they get authorisation from the university. All the people who are students of the university can object to this, as they have the right to free and fair entry. Right to access is a basic right,” said Arora. However, he added, “They are being unrealistic. That level of security cannot be implemented anywhere. The finger prints are with the aadhaar repository of the Unique Identification Authority of India and this form of verification will take time,” the lawyer added.

This shows the heights of VVIP culture, said Rakesh Reddy, an RTI activist. (VIPs are exempt) “SC has made it clear multiple times that Aadhaar should be used only for basic purposes like DBT. If Aadhaar is mandatory for entry, all VIPs should also go through the mechanism,” he added.

OU centenary fest inauguration today

Hyderabad: On Wednesday as Osmania University will be entering its centenary year, a sea of people will be descending in the university to be part of the inaugural event to be attended by President, Pranab Mukherjee. The event will flag off the various events which will be spread over three days till Friday, as part of centenary celebrations. 

To ensure smooth conduct the university has made seating arrangements for nearly twenty thousand people which include around 10 thousand students, 1,000 VIPs, 2,000 alumni, 1,020 faculty, 758 retired staff, 1800 non-teaching staff and 128 physically handicapped candidates. Attendants had to apply for entry pass online. 1,500 invitations were sent to affiliated colleges.

The university also made parking arrangements for a large number of vehicles and shuttle services will also be made available to pick up people from various points. 

The inaugural event will be from 12:30 to 1:30 pm which will be attended by the President along with Governor ESL Narasimhan, Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao, Union Minister, Bandaru Dattatreya, Deputy Chief Minister, Kadiyam Srihari, Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Dr K Keshava Rao, GHMC, Mayor, Bonthu Rammohan and university officials, Vice Chancellor, Prof S Ramachandram and Registrar, Prof Ch Gopal Reddy. 

The inaugural will be followed a national seminar on ‘Role of OU in Telangana and Nation Building’, followed by cultural programs in the evening. On all three days, there will be cultural programs in front of Arts College revolving around the theme of the centenary. The varsity has clarified that pass is required only for the inaugural programme on Wednesday upto 1.30 pm. For rest of the programmes, entry pass will not be required.

Student leaders assure no disruptions

Hyderabad: Student leaders of various organizations in Osmania University called on Vice Chancellor Prof S Ramachandram on Tuesday in which they  ensured him that there will be no disruptions to the inaugural event of OU Centenary Celebrations which will be held on Wednesday.

The student leaders however made four demands and said that they will wait till May 1 for the state government to respond positively to it, following which they will conduct protests if there was hesitation on part of the administration. The demands include formation of the Executive Council of OU, conducting recruitment to fill the vacant faculty positions in university, provision of scholarship of Rs 3,000 to Post Graduation students and Rs 8,000 to PhD students who do not have any fellowships and allowing students union elections in OU.

V Arunank of Democratic Students Union (DSU) said, “The Vice Chancellor told us that he will take up our demands with the central government. We are not against the university celebrating the centenary. We are also OU students and take pride in it but we are against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao participating in the celebrations. However, he is coming along with the President so we decided not to conduct any protests.”  The students were sceptical about the fact that the police officials may conduct preventive arrests against students leaders or pick them up from the campus.

However, student leaders said that the Vice Chancellor assured them that he had spoken with police officials to not take up any such measures in campus and has also not given any permission for it. The student leaders said that they believe their Vice Chancellor’s vow and are not worried.

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