Police brutality at UoH sparks outrage

Police brutality at UoH sparks outrage

Condemning police “crackdown” on peacefully protesting students in University of Hyderabad (UoH) and faculty, Amnesty International India has demanded their immediate release.

Hyderabad: Condemning police “crackdown” on peacefully protesting students in University of Hyderabad (UoH) and faculty, Amnesty International India has demanded their immediate release.

  • Women students allege that cops grabbed them by their hair and issued threats of ‘rape’
  • Rohith’s mother demanded release of arrested students, arrest of VC

Executive Director of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel said, "Violence against protesting students in a university cannot under any circumstances be justified. Allegations of sexual violence and threats by the police to women students must be investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted."

Patel alleged, “Any protester, who can legitimately be charged for acts of violence or vandalism, must be prosecuted and tried in proceedings which meet international standards of fair trial. Male police brutally grabbed, molested, tossed and beat female students and faculties alike. Students have a right to protest. Denying students electricity, water and food merely because they are protesting is unacceptable."

"The university must act to ensure it remains an inclusive place for everyone; there must be no discrimination against those who belong to certain castes or profiling of students because they are politically active on this issue," said Aakar Patel. In a related development, UoH students JAC on Friday demanded independent investigation into the “excessive use of police force.”

Speaking to media persons here, he alleged that on March 22, lathi-wielding police belaboured protesting students on the UoH campus. The students were peacefully protesting against the return of vice-chancellor Podile Appa Rao, whom the students held responsible for the suicide of research scholar Rohit Vemula in January.

"Female faculties were grabbed by their hair and dragged into vans. Male students were swept inside the van and were beaten mercilessly," said Vaikhari Aryat, a UoH student in her Facebook post. Akshita Chitla, a student of UoH, told Amnesty International India that she was dragged outside from the VC office where she was protesting. “Police told us not to behave like prostitutes and threatened us with rape.

Most of my friends, who were girls, were slapped and kicked by male and female police officers,’ she alleged. Twenty five students and two faculty members among the protesters have been arrested for allegedly vandalising the vice-chancellor’s office and booked for rioting, criminal intimidation and damage to public property. If found guilty, they could be imprisoned for up to seven years,” she said.

Udaya Bhanu, a UoH student and president of Madiga Students Federation was one of the many students admitted to a hospital with injuries inflicted by the police. He said there were injuries across his body, including blood clot in his ear and the doctors suspect that there could be internal bleeding.

Earlier, Rohit Vemula's mother demanded unconditional release of 25 students and two faculty members of UoH. "We demand immediate and unconditional release of all those who were arrested and sent to jail, and withdrawal of cases against them.

They (students) were asking for justice for Rohit (during the protest near VC's lodge)...but were beaten up brutally by police," Rohit's mother Radhika and brother Raja, along with some teachers of HCU and parents of some of the arrested students told reporters.

They also sought immediate arrest of UoH Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, stating that there was a case registered against him for abetment to Rohit's suicide. "A case is already registered against Appa Rao and how can he resume his duty? Over two months have passed since registration of the case, but no one has (either) been questioned or arrested," Radhika said, adding, cases were registered against students who were arrested and jailed.

"How many more days do we have to wait for justice for Rohit? Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani calls Rohit a child in Parliament, but she and the BJP government (at Centre) is not considering our requests seeking action against those responsible for Rohit's death," they said. "...If I question government, will I be called an anti-national? ...Prove that I am ant-national," Raja asked.

P Anupama, a faculty member of UoH said, "We the concerned teachers of HCU are extremely distressed at the recent turn of events on the campus." She said Podile's return to the campus on March 22 to resume duties has come as a shock to a majority of the varsity community.

"We demand release of all arrested students and faculty and withdrawal of charges. The police must be immediately asked to leave the campus and we demand an independent enquiry into the incidents that happened on March 22," Anupama and other teachers said.

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