Return of an institutional killer: UoH Alumni’s open letter

UoH Alumni Open Letter against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the return of Dr. Appa Rao as UoH’s VC, and the brutal display of state violence in campus.
As alumni of the University of Hyderabad, we observed with dismay the return of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad (UoH) on March 22. We strongly condemn this provocation that led to the police brutality on campus. The shutdown of the university which has followed is unacceptable and unlawful.

A couple of days ago, a report ranked three departments of the University of Hyderabad among the top 500 university facilities in the world. The education we received at UoH helped us to not only shape our careers, but also to question, critique and analyse concepts such as equality, fraternity and social justice.  Upon entering a central university of this size, we were exposed to the sheer diversity of this country. UoH, like other central universities in India, is an amalgam of many languages, cultures, religions and regions.

However, much like the rest of the country, the university campus is a space where systematically oppressive caste structures operate and are institutionally legitimised. Recent events at UoH have left us dismayed and angered at the treatment meted out to peacefully protesting students at the hands of the administration and the police.

Suicides of Dalit students have been recurring in UoH.  While such incidents continue unabated across the country, the issue spiralled into a nationwide students’ protest with the untimely death of Dalit scholar and social activist Rohith Vemula on January 17th. Rohith’s suicide note gives us glimpses into the individual that he was — an astute observer of the human condition. His progressive ideas gave hope, especially to marginalised groups, for whom he fought tirelessly. The son of a Dalit mother who makes her living out of a sewing machine, he proudly bore his mother’s identity and fought for the rights of all people regardless of caste, class, gender and sexuality. He was especially vocal about the plight of Dalit students, a 200-million-strong population that has historically been denied fair opportunities to achieve social mobility in Indian society. It is unforgivable that the university administration could not save him.

A grave problem lies, therefore, in the fact that as of March 22, Dr. Appa Rao Podile, who mismanaged the suspension of Rohith and others, leading to his suicide, has resumed the office of the VC after two months of leave. This is highly inappropriate especially given that a non-bailable charge is registered against him under the SC/ST Atrocities Act and a judicial inquiry to determine accountability is still pending.

The morning of Rao’s return saw an unprecedented display of violence in the campus. The media reported that the students pelted stones and ransacked the VC’s lodge. But, information from several sources, especially eyewitness accounts from students, faculty and non-teaching staff, contests mainstream media reports. There is ample footage of the police brutally assaulting students with lathis. Some police personnel allegedly threatened to rape students. Even faculty members were not spared.

After the incident, the university has been locked down with no food (14 messes have shut operations), water, electricity (in some parts), and no internet connectivity. This cannot be the reality of a central university, where, as we write this letter, ATM cards linked to student accounts have been blocked barring students from making essential purchases. Students who attempted to cook for their peers were severely beaten up by the police for the absurd crime of ‘cooking in a public place’. The administration has imposed an emergency-like situation in one of India’s biggest universities. Today UoH resembles a surveillance state with students being attacked, and their basic needs like food, water and money being denied to them. As the University and state administration try to starve out its own students by using state machinery and the law to wage war on members of a public institution, the response of the city has been heartening, with residents of Hyderabad cooking and delivering food and water to the students.

In light of these developments, we appeal to all citizens to keep asking the unpleasant questions that Rohith’s suicide has raised; questions about the persistence of caste in our educational institutions, and the present government’s apathy and refusal to hold the university administration accountable. Universities are spaces for understanding our complex social structures where questions are and must be raised against the abuse of power and authoritarianism.

We the undersigned alumni of this university-in-turmoil write to draw attention to the atrocities that the students are experiencing for raising their voices against injustice. We stand with the students and faculty around the country in universities like UoH, JNU, FTII, DU, IIT Madras, University of Allahabad and numerous others that are fighting to uphold the freedoms that are guaranteed by our constitution. We stand with Radhika Vemula and her ongoing courageous struggle for justice against a casteist and patriarchal administration. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of students and faculty members who were ambushed and taken into judicial custody on the morning of March 22. We condemn any kind of violence that tries to suppress freedom of expression and seeks instead to spread fear. Let all students and citizens debate to make India the safest example of a real grassroot democracy. Let them speak for a just world where everyone feels safe to just be.

 

Endorsements

 

 

Name Affiliation Course of study
Nanditha Mathew Research Fellow, National Research Council, Italy. M.A and M.Phil Economics
Aabha Sharma KPMG India IMA Political Science
RASHAD MOIDEEN No Affiliation  
Hameeda C. K. Student, JNU  
VG Balaji Alumnus  
Gopika G G PhD Scholar, Centre for Development Studies  
Krishnendu Adiyat Student  
Vaishnavi Shankar Instructional Designer MA English
Anu Salelkar Alumni, Student, Hyderabad Central University  
Juby George Editor, Higher ed publisher  
Silpa Satheesh Student, University of South Florida  
Alamuru Soumya Frelane research scholar  
Shauhrat S. Chopra Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Environmental Science and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago  
Carmel Christy Postdoctoral fellow, University of California Santa Cruz  
Shijo Varghese Asst. Professor, Sacred Heart College, Thevara  
A.P Sreeraj Assistant Professor, CUR  
Abhigna S Academic Editor  
Bestin Samuel Writer, World Vision India M.A English and MPhil Comparative Literature
Maithreyi M R Senior editor, BNHS-India  
Ramesh Bairy Associate professor, IITB  
Navika Harshe HCU/ alum  
Anirban Dey Editor, Cambridge University Press  
Bindhulakshmi P Associate Professor, TISS, Mumbai  
Shipra Nigam Research Scholar , New Delhi  
Jaseena t p Student  
Tore Holst External lecturer, university of Roskilde MA English
Diana Gomes Alumni, UoH M.F.A Painting
Tharakeshwar Eflu  
Rakesh Nanjappa Student, State University of New York  
Priya Vijay PhD scholar, JNU M.A English and MPhil Comparative Literature
Shamsudheen U. K HCU alumni  
Aparna R HCU alumni  
Samiah Sultana Ex-student, University of Hyderabad  
Mahaprajna Nayak CSSSC, Kolkata  
Kirti Ajith Varma Independent researcher  
Meghana Rao PhD Student, University of Toronto  
Faiza Hasan Alumni, University of Hyderbad  
Savitha Suresh Student, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore  
Merlin Abey Theressa Analyst, Private Firm  
Soumava Basu Student  
Jithin Mathew Student IIT B  
Soumya Balan Student  
Nithin M Assistant Professor, MCC  
Dhaneesh M P M.Phil Research Scholar  
Sreekumar jayadevan IIT Jodhpur  
Manjari Student, Central University of Gujarat  
Ojas Shetty Independent Researcher MA Anthropology
Sheeja Rajagopal Student, IITM MA English
Abhishek Bakuli Student, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung  
Abir Dasgupta Student, TISS MSc Physics
R K Debbarma Assistant Professor, TISS, Guwahati campus  
Rahul Deshmukh Student, City University of New York  
Gowri Shankar Student, UOH  
Muhammed P Research Scholar, EFL University, Hyderabad  
Deepti Chief copy editor, The Times of India  
Sujata Mishra Policy Researcher  
Rohit Thapa Fellow, Teach For India MBA Marketing
Himanshu Upadhyaya Assistant Professor, Azim Premji University  
M Naresh Kumar Student  
Tore Holst Recent PhD Graduate/Roskilde University  
Shilpaa Anand Assistant Professor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University Hyderabad  
Monty Majeed Journalist  
Manjari Student, Central University of Gujarat  
Vikas Kumar Moola M.Phil Social Sciences, CSSSC IMA Sociology
SALMA ASHRAF STUDENT, University of Hyderabad  
Richa Gupta Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta/PhD research scholar MA English
Kevin B. Haynes Student, Western Michigan University  
Nandini Chandrashekar Student  
M Naresh Kumar Student/University of Hyderbad MA English
Kedar Kulkarni Student, University of Hyderabad  
Nikhilesh Sinha Lecturer, Hult International Business School, London MA Economics
Arpan Ganguly Student, UoH/Graduate Instructor, Colorado State University  
Tejaswini Madabhushi IIIT, Hyderabad MA Sociology
Srinath raghunathan Student  
Karteek Kunnala Student  
Harshavardhan Student  
Knut Aukland Phd candidate, University of Bergen, Norway  
Asamol Mohan student  
Lijinesh M T student  
Ratheesh Radhakrishnan Associate Professor, Dept. of HSS, IIT Bombay  
Devi G R PhD scholar, Dept. of Physics, IIT Madras M.Sc. Physics
PRITI LAISHRAM Student, DELHI SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS  
Laishram Priyanka Alumni, University of Hyderabad  
Sharmila Associate Professor, Dept. of HSS, IIT Bombay  
Yacoub Zachariah Kuruvilla Phd Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai  
Rekha Abel Independent Development Consultant Ph.D. Linguistics
Alex M. Thomas Senior Lecturer, Azim Premji University MA and MPhil Economics
K.Srilata Professor, Dept of HSS, IITM MA,  MPhil and PhD English
Tejaswini Niranjana Professor, TISS and Lingnan University  
Swati Bandi Independent Scholar Faculty
Sujith Parayil student  
Paromita Bose Assistant Professor, Mahindra Ecole Centrale M.Phil, PhD English
Jayanti K Chhetri Alumini, University of Hyderabad  
Suresh Pittala Postdoc at Indian Institute of Science  
Sanjeev C M Assistant Professor, NIFT MFA Painting
Jasmeet Sahi Freelance writer MA English
Anupama S Ex Student UoH  
Priyanka Das Student, UOH  
Sanjeev Routray Sessional Lecturer, University of British Columbia  
Shashikantha Koudur Associate Professor, NIT, Karnataka  
Amrit Amlan Pattanaik Senior Lecturer, Xavier University Bhubaneswar  
Unika Prusty Freelance Journalist & Independent Researcher  
Bidyut Sagar Boruah Independent Researcher  
Dharashree Das PhD Candidate, Simon Fraser University, Canada  
Gurveen Kaur Independent Researcher, Alumnus  
Pridhvi Sabbineni Alumnus,University of Hyderabad (Physics)  
Mohsin Khan Economist/consultant – Deloitte Malaysia MA Economics
Sawmya Ray Associate Professor, IITG  
Vaskar Upadhyay UoH, MA English, 2001. Currently based IN, US  
Kiriti Kanjilal PhD Student, Washington State University  
Koshy Tharakan Professor, Goa University  
Kushal Deb Professor, Dept. of HSS, IIT Bombay  
Navaneetha Mokkil Maruthur Assistant Professor, JNU  
TV Madhu Professor, University of Calicut  
Lourembam Arnold Student, University of Hyderabad  
Sudeshna Devi Student, Jawaharlal Nehru University  
Shravan Kumar Alumni, University of Hyderabad MA Communication – SN School
Avinandan Mukherjee Alumnus, University of Hyderabad MA English
Swathysree PhD Candidate, IIM Calcutta  
Akhila M V Alumnus, University of Hyderabad  
J S Sam Social Scientist  
Sujith SN Artist. MFA – SN School
Uday Bhaskar Sharma Senior Research Fellow, IMSc, Chennai. M.Sc. Mathematics (Integrated)
Madhusudan Nag Research Scholar, Centre for Development Studies M.A in Economics
Umasankar Patra University of Delhi, Delhi MA English
Vishal Babu Editor, Viva Books Private Limited MA English
Parvathy Rajendran Student,JNU  
Anandavardhanan Associate Professor, IIT Bombay  
Vipin Krishna JNU PHD Student  
Jaya Peter Student, HCU,HYDERABAD  
Rekha Abel Independent Development Consultant  
Divyaprabha V J Student  
Anita Cherian Assistant Professor in English, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi  
Bindu K C Ambedkar University/ Assistant Professor  
Anupama Ayyala Somayajala Central University, Gujarat/Assistant Professor  
Venkatesh babu Student  
Pratap Student  
Anil kumar Student  
Madhumita Biswal Central University, Assistant Professor  
Sudarshan Papanna Central University, Gujarat/Assistant Professor  
Abhishek Shaw Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly  
Jomy Abraham PhD research scholar, JNU  
Deepak Rajula Student, UOH  
Parvathi Cug  
Kranthi Nanduri Fellow student, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta  
Reshma Radhakrishnan Research Scholar, Delhi University  
Parvathi K. Iyer Assistant Professor CUG  
Amit Upadhyay Assistant Professor, TISS Hyderabad MA Sociology
Rituparna Sur university of hyderabad  
D Parthasarathy IIT Bombay Professor  
Ratheesh Kumar JNU/ Assistant Professor  
Rajyashree Sen PhD student, Janelia Research Campus, VA  
Dr. Robin Luke Varghese Independent Researcher MA, MPhil, PhD Philosophy
Niveditha Kalarikkal Assistant Professor, , Central University of Gujarat  
Shamsiya Qosimova Independent Contractor, BBC Monitoring in Dushanbe  
Sunitha M Lead Technical Writer, Wipro Technologies, Hyderabad  
Saiyora Saimurodova Student, Master of Arts in Sociology, HCU  
K.L.Leon Ex-Student,SN School,Painting  
Dr.D.Anand Asst. Regional Director , Indira gandhi National Open University  
Asmita Chaudhuri Project Fellow, Jadavpur University MA, Applied Linguistics
Samik Malla Research Scholar, IIT Madras  
Smrti K.P IxD Architect, Nokia MPhil English, PhD Translation Studies
Dr. Itishree Pattnaik Assistant Professor, GIDR Phd Economics
Naresh S Ex-Student,SSB  
Shivali Tukdeo NIAS, Bangalore  
Milan George Jacob Hindustan Times, New Delhi IMA Economics
S. Anand Publisher, Navyana MA and Mphil, Department of English
Elizabeth Priyanka Ex-student, MA Communication SN School.
Sumanta Thangjam Phd, Philosophy  
Thushara Mohanan Ex Student , MA Communication SN School
Pritipushpa Mishra Lecturer, University of Southampton MA History
Jasmine Yimchunger Assistant Proffessor, Sikkim University MA Communications – SN School
Balendu Rashmi Bhumika Women’s Collective Integrated Masters in Sociology
Sudha Samyukta PRIA Integrated Masters in Sociology
Geetha Krishna PRIA Integrated Masters in Sociology
Vinitha Mokshagundam Lecturer, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore MA, M.Phil, History
Ado Kehie Student, IIT Guhati MA Sociology
Ganga Bhavani HCU  
Jaishree Ram Mohan Editor,  
Thungchobeni Assistant Professor,Alder College,Kohima.  
Jyotsna Yedem HCU Alumnus MA English
Akshara Ravishankar Assistant Professor, Gargi College  
Themeem T Asst. professor, St. Stephens College, Delhi  
Vinitha Lecturer, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore  
Suresh K Golle student  
Vizokhonuo student  
Pattela Omkar Nadh Student  
Malavika Rao Performance maker  
Monica Ex Student from UOH  
Sumedha Student,HCU  
Minu. A Alumni  
Kiran Sikha Student  
Naveen Kumar P Student  
Deepthi Krisha T Student  
Santosh Gurrani Alumni, Hyderabad Central University  
Chandra Kiran Katta Communication Specialist/NGO  
Queenie Fancon student  
Shravan Kumar University of Hyderabad – Alumni  
Dhilip Independent Researcher  
Aswani RS HCU Student  
Monica Nanjunda University Of Hyderabad – Alumni SN School Of Fine Arts
Kedar Kulkarni Research Assistant, FEEM, Italy IMA Economics
Rakesh R. Assistant Proffessor, St. John’s College MA and MPhil, Department of English
Imlienla Jamir Student, Analog IAS IMA Political Science
Ekta Singla Student, UCL-Institute of Education, London MA Applied Linguistics
S Sayujya Alumnus, UoH MPhil English
Anwesha Chakraborty Phd Student, University of Bologna MA English
Ratan Laishram Alumni HCU MA Economics
Sunil Kumar Polamuri IT Professional MA Applied Linguistics
Sukriti Kapur Student, Erasmus Mundus Masters Program MA Economics
Tharakeshwar V.B. Teacher, EFL University Ph.D. English
Madhurima Majumder Research fellow, Anveshi  
M B Sudha Rani Media Professional MA Mass Communications
Rakesh Sengupta Post-doctoral researcher, York University, Toronto Ph.D., Cognitive Science
G Naga Sena Rana Media Professional MA Mass Communications
Sopei Joel Rungsung Media Professional MA Mass Communications
Sashikant alumnus  
Aravind Parakkot Alumnus MA English
Anu K antony Research fellow, IIT, Bombay MA, Mphil Sociology
Anna Mini Freelance writer MA Political Science
Anas Nazar   MA Political Science
Rajeswari S Alumnus  
Yanger Kichu   MA History
Asima Jena Assistant professor,Central University of Gujarat  
Anuradha Banerji Research Scholar, Ambedkar University  
Sreejith T Student  
Mrudula Bhavani Ex-student  
Anju Christine Lingham Student, King’s College London, University of London  
Arathi R Student  
Pallavi Student  
Lakshmi Priya Student  
Pranith Maddirala SN School, University of Hyderabad  
Esfandiar Adina (Rahim Rahimov) Student  
sukhvinder multani educationist and researcher  
Varunika Saraf Artist MFA Painting
Monu Rajan Alumnus, UoH  
Shriya sharma Student  
Abhilash Augustine Student, JNU  
madhav vinodh Student, UoH  
Kathi Mahesh Kumar Student  
Nagesh Muppavaram Student  
Hariprasad R Student, central university of hyderabad  
Godwin Student  
TINCHU P JAMES STUDENT  
Sujatha Girija Alumnae of HCU  
Harini Kumar PhD student, University of Chicago  
Elsa Oommen Warwick  
Mariyam Mumthas student  
Anagha Alumni  
Anoop Daniel Student  
JNANESH R J HCU  
Gautami Alumnus/University of Hyderabad  
Nargis Vasundhara Student, Ph.D, Delhi University  
JOSEPH MICHAEL JOSE alumni  
Abin Thomas Student, King’s College London  
Pleasa Serin Abraha, Researcher, IIT Bombay M.A Economics
Ajmal S. Rasaq PhD student, JNU M.A. Political Science
KV Nagesh Babu Assistant Professor, SMCS, TISS M.A. Communication
P Niranjana Assistant Professor, SMCS, TISS M.A. Communication
Probal Dasgupta Linguistic Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata  
Bharath Kumar IIT Indore PhD Philosophy
Aparna Nandakumar Assistant Professor, Providence Women’s College, Kozhikode MA English, MPhil Comparative Literature
Jenson Joseph Alumnus, UoH PhD
Kalpana Kannabiran Council for Social Development Hyderabad  
SANGAY TAMANG P.HD IIT GUWAHATI  
Richa Sharma Alumnus  
Thanzeel Nazer Research Scholar, Delhi School of Economics, Department of Sociology M.A.Sociology
A. Giridhar Rao Azim Premji University, Bengaluru MA, MPhil, PhD English
Aishwarya Pothula International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague IMA Economics
Vidya Rangan London, United Kingdom MA Economics
Abdhi Sarkar Student M.Sc. Statistics
Prathibha Radhakrishnan Alumna  
Suma Sambrani Alumnus, Department of English  
Medi Pramukh scholar, Pondicher  
Sumedha Bajar Post doctoral fellow, NIAS  
Mohit Kumar Pandey Student, JNU  
Rakesh Mehar Journalist, The News Minute  
shipra nigam Researcher, JNU  
Fareeda farsana Student  
Gurram Srinivas Associate Professor, JNU, New Delhi  
Rajarshi Sengupta Phd student, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada  
Ankush Saha UoH alumni  
Hokato Awomi HCU Alumni MA HISTORY
Nairita Ghosh Alumni  
Swathi Krishna PhD scholar, IISER Mohali MSc Mathematics
Kailash Thakur HCU Alumnus M.A. Sociology
Clinta P S HCU Alumni MPhil English
Shruthi HM Senior Reporter, New Indian Express, Bangalore MA Communication
Achyut Kulkarni GroupM-ESP IMA Economics
Dr Srutikantha D Parida Economist, AP planning Department PhD, Economics
Raghu Narayanan Pradeep Graduate student, Arizona state University, USA Integrated masters in chemical sciences
     
Payal Sudhan CUG/Research Scholar  
Fasna N K Student  
Pratibha Anand Project Manager, Volvo  
Suvarna Cherukuri   M.A. Sociology