The Human Rights Forum (HRF) condemns the unjust suspension by the University of Hyderabad administration of Prof. KY Ratnam and Dr S. Tathagata, both faculty at the UoH. We demand that the suspensions be immediately revoked.
At a time when universities are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world outside, to take a principled stand and persistently struggle on issues of justice both within and outside universities, as Ratnam and Tathagata have been doing, ought to be admired and supported. In the UoH, they have been engaged along with several students and faculty members in a collective struggle against discrimination of dalits and the marginalised.
Following the brutal crackdown on students of the university this March 22, the two faculty members along with several students were arrested and sent to judicial custody. The university has now, three months after the arrest and release of these individuals, decided to suspend Tathagata and Ratnam. This is clearly vindictive and spiteful.
This is an administration that has breached norms of justice and fair play and has deliberately targeted students from disadvantaged and dalit backgrounds leading up to the institutionalized murder of Rohith Vemula. It has been evident since many months that all this is happening with the explicit patronage of Hindutva elements within the government.
The events leading up to Rohit’s death unleashed a discourse around caste-based discrimination on campuses across the nation and struggles seeking ‘Justice for Rohith’. This has done society much good. However, the highly improper and sudden re-assumption of charge as VC by P Appa Rao in March has once again led to administrative intimidation and arbitrariness in UoH. It is intended to protect upper caste hegemony in the institution. It is well to remember that Appa Rao is booked under serious sections of the law including the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Rather than remove him from his position as VC and ensure that he is criminally prosecuted, the BJP government is brazenly backing this man.
HRF condemns the increasingly stifling nature of academic and non-academic spaces. The UoH administration’s actions subvert the very idea of a university being a space for dialogue and dissent. We urge concerned citizens and organisations to recognize the nature of changes we are witnessing around us and come together in order to uphold two very necessary components of a society working towards increasing democracy and justice: respect for diversity of opinion and an end to discrimination in all forms.
VS Krishna S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF general secretary, TS&AP) (HRF president, TS&AP)