Unrest Continues in University of Hyderabad Amid Student Leader Suspensions and Fines, Executive Council Meeting Called

The UoH administration suspended five students, including the Student Union president and imposed fines of Rs 10,000 on each of them.
Hyderabad Central University (HCU)
Hyderabad Central University (HCU)

New Delhi: Student leaders at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have been fervently protesting for several days following the varsity's contentious decision to suspend several student leaders. In a significant development on June 26, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) announced plans to organize state-wide protests in response to these suspensions. Additionally, an executive-level meeting is scheduled for June 28 to further address the issue.

The university administration issued suspension orders on May 31 against five students for allegedly trespassing into the vice-chancellor's residence. The suspended students, including Students Union president Ateeq Ahmed, Kripa Maria George, G Mohith, Sohail Ahmed and Asika VM, face a suspension for one semester (July–December 2024).

In addition to the suspensions, five other students were fined Rs 10,000 each as part of the disciplinary actions. According to the suspension notice, these measures were taken due to the students allegedly "trespassing and attacking the residence of Vice-Chancellor Prof BJ Rao on the morning of May 18."

The suspended students are also barred from entering the university campus and must vacate their hostels by July 1.

Among the suspended students, two hold Junior Research Fellowships and one holds an Institution of Eminence (IoE) post-doctoral fellowship, which they will be ineligible to receive during the suspension period.

The suspension stemmed from a protest on May 18 outside the vice-chancellor’s residence, prompted by the university's decision to postpone Sukoon-2024, its cultural festival.

In early May, the university administration announced that the festival would be rescheduled to August, aligning with the academic sessions rather than its original slot in the last week of May, which sparked discontent among students.

The protest began at Velivada, a significant campus site where Rohith Vemula staged his 2016 suspension protest. Velivada holds deep emotional resonance as it was where Rohith Vemula's protest tragically culminated in his suicide, underscoring the seriousness of the students' grievances and their solidarity with past student struggles.

G Mohith, one of the suspended students, disclosed that they had already started preparing for the festival, financing initial expenses from their personal funds, when the university postponed it without prior consultation.

Adding to their frustration, the university had failed to allocate a budget for the event, exacerbating the situation. This lack of financial support left the students feeling abandoned and unsupported, intensifying their determination to protest.

The protest aimed to express dissatisfaction with the postponement and to underscore the administration's lack of meaningful dialogue and support for student initiatives.

According to a report by TOI, SFI General Secretary T Nagaraju remarked, "This marks the first instance of a student union president being suspended for advocating for students' rights. All the suspended students hail from marginalized communities, which will have a significant impact on them."

Gopi Swamy from Ambedkar Students Association expressed strong solidarity with the Student Union’s protest.

Swamy emphasized that Sukoon is a vital annual cultural event for outgoing students and the Students' Union had gone ahead to release posters and set dates. However, the university administration declined to approve the event.

Despite several discussions, the administration cited past unrest and external advice as reasons for withholding approval and eventually opted not to provide funding. This decision left students who had already made plans for the event feeling disappointed.

The situation escalated into a student protest, but rather than addressing their concerns, the university responded by suspending five students and imposing a Rs 10,000 fine on five others.

“This marks the first time elected student leaders have been suspended. Despite multiple appeals to the administration to reconsider, the university stood by its decision. The suspension was hastily decided in an executive council meeting conducted through WhatsApp messages,” he continued.

“The students argue that this process was unconstitutional and stifles their voices.”

Kripa from the Students Federation of India at UoH informed The Mooknayak that an Executive Council meeting is slated for June 28th. It will include deans from all schools, senior faculty members, the most senior assistant and associate professors, nominees, and an alumnus.

She asserted, “We will continue our protests until we receive a clear commitment from the administration.”

The student leader added that while the administration has not indicated a reversal, there is a possibility of reconsideration during the upcoming Executive Council meeting.

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