HYDERABAD: Inspite of an unprecedented warning issued by the University of Hyderabad administration against any form of protests on campus, over 500 students gathered at Shopcom on Friday. Barely hours prior to the protest, the varsity registrar issued a circular allowing the chief security officer of the varsity to photograph and capture videos of students indulging in any “unlawful activities.” It is alleged that administration even hired professional videographers to cover the students’ protest demanding revocation of suspension handed out to 10 students.
Students have condemned the circular and termed it ‘highly questionable’ even as they accuse the administration of moral policing. Questioning the language used in the circular, which uses words like ‘suspected activity’, ‘suspicious grounds’ and ‘unlawful activities’, students claim it makes them look like terrorists instead of students expressing dissent.
Arif Ahmmed, general secretary of the Students Union called the circular a ploy to scare students. “We will take up this issue too but right now our primary concern is revocation of the suspension that was based on false allegation. It will also hit those pursuing post graduation because examination begins next week and they will not be able take it and lose a year despite being suspended for six months,” he said.
National Students Union of India, the students arm of Congress, in a statement condemning the suspension order said the threatening circular was akin to creating a state of emergency in the campus. By taking a jibe at the ruling BJP government, it said,” ..the registrar threatened us that the security will barge into room and take photos and videos around the campus at their own discretion! This reeks of BJP government’s tactics — moral policing, intrude into people’s privacy and stalk their activities.”
Despite the large gathering at the Velivada and the presence of over 100 security personnel and nearly 50 policemen near the administration building and at the main entrance, the three-hour long protest was peaceful. Besides speeches and sloganeering, effigy of vice chancellor prof P Apparao and suspension orders were also burnt by protesters.
“Though the protest call was given by the Students Union, all students regardless of their party affiliations participated. The suspended students, however, stayed away as did ABVP activists who seemed to be busy with ‘Chalo Kerala’ programme in Kerala,” said Vyshakh T, a SFI member.
‘Protests not over’
Presentations have been submitted to the administration, one by Students Union and the other by 10 students who have been suspended. Both have demanded total revocation of the suspension. “We are told that VC is considering the representations. If his decision is not favourable then there will be further protests on Monday,” said Arif.
Guards instructed to take pictures in case of suspicion
In the order issued earlier in the day, guards have been instructed to take photographs of the activities, videograph events, check identity cards, confiscate banned substances, conduct regular inspection of hostel rooms/playgrounds/open areas of campus on suspicious grounds or anything that goes against the rules to ‘safeguard’ the interests of the university