A day after protests erupted in Hyderabad Central University over the return of controversial Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, students have alleged university authorities and police have turned the campus into prison. The students claim the supply of food, water have been blocked and electricity and internet services have been shut down. 

Several HCU students told ScoopWhoop in telephonic interviews that they haven’t had access to water and food since Tuesday evening. They also alleged the police has arrested students who were organizing community kitchens in the campus after the hostel mess refused to serve them food. 

“The campus has been turned into a prison. First we were beaten up by police and then they are trying to starve us,” an HCU student, wishing not to be named, told ScoopWhoop. 

Confirming the stoppage of essential services in the campus, Hyderabad Central University Registrar M Sudhakar told ScoopWhoop it has been done as a “token of protest” by the non-teaching staff of the university. He said he was working with the Vice-Chancellor to break the deadlock.

“After yesterday’s violence on the campus, the university’s non-teaching staff has gone on strike as a token of protest against the vandalism by protesting students near VC’s lodge on Tuesday. 

“They too believe in democracy,” he said.

The university administration, which ordered suspension of classes from March 23 to 26, has also disallowed the media from entering the campus to cover the ongoing protests.

When asked on what grounds media and political groups were barred from entering the campus, the Registrar said the step was taken in the view of prevailing situation in the campus.

“We don’t want to aggravate the prevailing situation on the campus. That’s why we have restricted the entry of political groups and press,” he said.  

Students have been mobilizing support and disseminating information through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

b’Students of Hyderabad Central University demanding justice for dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, holding a protest demonstration against the University VC in Hyderabad on Tuesday | Source: PTI’

Most of the campaigning on social media has been expressing concern about the condition of 36 HCU students and three university professors who were detained by the police since Tuesday evening. While the students and professors were taken in a police van, the students allege there’s no information about their whereabouts or their condition. 

On Tuesday, Hyderabad Police had resorted dispersing the protesting students using batons inside the university. This came after the students had raised slogans against the Vice Chancellor and allegedly vandalized his official residence. 

However, the students have alleged that a group of students was already present in the VC’s lodge and allegations of vandalization against students are part of a “conspiracy” by the VC.

“The VC had invited the students from ABVP and non-teaching staff to his lodge even before we reached there. They are trying to polarize the campus by pitting non-teaching staff against the students,” Munna, a member of Joint Action Committee for Justice for Rohith Vemula, told ScoopWhoop.   

Police on Tuesday said additional forces have been deployed on the campus as a precautionary measure and pickets set up around Podile’s official residence. 

The students have been demanded that the VC be arrested immediately as he is one of the accused in the case filed following Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide on January 17. Podile, who is in the eye of a storm over Vemula’s suicide, has been on leave on January 24 as the agitating students demanded his resignation and held protests.

Feature image source: PTI