Online surveillance in EFLU curbing students’ right to freedom of expression: EFLU Struggle Committee
Hyderabad (Press Statement): Two students of The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) Hyderabad, both belonging to a minority community, were handed show cause notices, issued by the Proctor’s office and signed by Deputy Proctor Sujata Mukhri, for expressing their opinion on Facebook about remarks made by a member of the administration at a students’ general body meeting organised by the administration to select the electoral committee for the upcoming students’ union election.
In the electoral committee selection meeting organized by the administration on 9. 10. 2013, at Ground Floor, Academic Block, Room no. 1, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad at 3:00 pm, the Deputy Dean of Student Welfare Mr. Tariq Sheikh spoke against the constitution of India by passing anti-reservation comments. When SC/ST students raised their genuine concern about having no reservation in the central panel (President, Vice-President, General Secretary, Joint Secretary, Cultural Secretary, Sports Secretary) and the removal of the post of SC/ST/OBC representative in the new constitution of the Student Union, the Deputy DSW said that if they are worthy, why should SC/ST/OBC students need any reservation? He also threatened that either the election will happen under this constitution, as it is, or there will be none. He was also extremely rude while answering genuine concerns raised by SC/ST students, almost dismissing them. His anti-reservation comments and rude behavior against SC/ST students where he was addressing the students publicly in his capacity as the Deputy DSW of a central government university goes against the Indian constitution as well as the UGC guidelines.
Moreover when pointed out that removal of the post of Foreign Students’ Representative from the earlier constitution would only alienate the foreign students further away from us especially in the light of the recent clashes between Indian students and foreigners on campus, the deputy DSW said that the students are “conscious and mature enough” to ensure everybody’s participation in the electoral process even without the post of foreign students’ representative. However, by the time the meeting ended with 25 students being selected for the committee, it was seen that none of them were foreigners, nor were there any foreigners present in the meeting itself.
Responding to this, one of the students wrote a status message saying:
“Zero is the number of foreign students in the elected/nominated election commission. This is how our ‘matured students conscious’ works Mr. Tarik Shaik. Hearing your ‘conscious’ jnu nostalgia, I don’t feel pity on your anti reservation remarks.”
Another student shared the same message on the EFL University page on Facebook. Today, both the students were handed out show-cause notices for allegedly defaming the said professor.
The statement issued by EFLU Struggle Committee says “we have always been in favour of freedom of expression and believe in the importance of developing a culture of debate and discussion between the student body and the administration. In absence of such a space, the students are often compelled to bring the discussions online on social networking sites. Even earlier, students have been verbally threatened with show-cause notices for putting up status messages against the administration during protests against the new rule book. Recently, after a student responded critically to the framing of 6 students in false police cases on facebook, a member of the administration called him repeatedly threatening him to remove his comments. If surveillance cameras are not enough, the Fascist administration has now begun 24*7 surveillance of the online space to silence any voice that dares to criticize their activities.
EFLU Struggle Committee demands from every believers of Indian constitution to condemn the administration’s continuous monitoring of students’ activities on social networking sites and targeting students (mostly from marginalized and minority communities) with show-cause notices for expressing their opinion and also condemn the Deputy DSW’s anti-reservation remarks and his dismissive attitude towards genuine concerns raised by SC/ST/Minority students.
The show-cause notices against the 2 students be withdrawn immediately.
The Deputy DSW Tariq Sheikh apologize publicly for his anti-reservation remarks and he be removed from his administrative position.
We also appeal you to, Extend your support by asking EFL University administration to accept the demands.