Tight security at Hyderabad varsity amid protests

Police stepped up security at the Hyderabad Central University today in view of a ''Chalo HCU'' call and protest organised by the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JACSJ) – an umbrella group of 14 student bodies – against an academic council meeting presided over by vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile.

Demanding Rao's removal, students tried to march towards VC Lodge, where the academic council was scheduled to meet, but were stopped by police and university security personnel. Though the council meet was supposed to be held at the School of Life Sciences auditorium, its venue was shifted to VC Lodge in view of the protests.

Hyderabad police erected barricades and deployed additional personnel to prevent protesting students from heading towards the VC Lodge.

The JACSJ, which does not recognise Rao as the university vice-chancellor, took exception to him presiding over the meeting and called for a voluntary boycott of classes.

The council meeting coincided with the Chalo HCU movement called by the group to protest the ''violence unleashed on students'' ever since Rao returned as its vice-chancellor on 22 March. It has asked everybody sympathetic to the cause – from students to activists – to undertake a march to the university to condemn police action and the continued lockdown of the campus.

The JACSJ is demanding the immediate removal and arrest of Rao in view of the case registered against him under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in January, following the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula. The students' group pointed out that Rao had not been granted anticipatory bail by the court thought he had approached it six times.

A two-member inquiry commission set up by the union ministry of human resources development had blamed Vemula's death on the vice-chancellor as well as the university administration. The JACSJ contends that in view of the ongoing judicial probe, Rao should be removed from his post to prevent him from tampering with evidence.