NEW DELHI: Academics, Artists, Writers, Activists across the world have come together to issue a strong statement against the police action on students at the Hyderabad Central University and the “siege like situation” created within. The statement notes that the detained students were “untraceable for 48 hours, brutally tortured, and denied legal access. In short, all legal procedures of detention have been suspended.” It points to the the “brutal assault” of students when they opened community kitchens in the campus and the denial of access to lawyers and others to the students in the university.

The full text of the statement signed by reputed scholars including Noam Chomsky reads:

“We, academicians, activists, artists and writers, condemn the ongoing brutal attacks on and unlawful detention of peacefully protesting faculty and students at the University of Hyderabad by the University administration and the police.

We also condemn the restriction of access to basic necessities such as water and food on campus. The students and faculty members of the University of Hyderabad were protesting the reinstatement of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor despite the ongoing judicial enquiry against him related to the circumstances leading to the death of the dalit student Rohith Vemula on January 17th, 2016.

Students and faculty members of the university community are concerned that this may provide him the opportunity to tamper with evidence and to influence witnesses. Suicides by dalit students have been recurring in the University of Hyderabad and other campuses across the country. The issue spiraled into a nationwide students’ protest with the death of the dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. The protests have pushed into the foreground public discussion and debate on the persistence of caste-based discrimination in educational institutions, and surveillance and suppression of dissent and intellectual debate in university spaces.

Since the morning of March 22 when Dr. Appa Rao returned to campus, the students and staff have been in a siege-like situation. The peacefully protesting staff and students were brutally lathi-charged by the police, and 27 people were taken into custody.

The 27 detainees were untraceable for 48 hours, brutally tortured, and denied legal access. In short, all legal procedures of detention have been suspended. After the incident, the university has been locked down with no access to food, water, electricity, and Internet connectivity. Students were brutally assaulted when they opened community kitchens. Lawyers and members of human rights organization as well the ordinary citizens of the city were denied access to students. University of Hyderabad is one of India’s biggest public universities.

We have followed, with deep concern, similar violent attacks and undemocratic crackdown on students on the campuses of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Film and Television Institute of India, the University of Allahabad, Jadavpur University, Burdwan University, and others across the country. That the highest administrative authorities in the university have allowed the silencing of debate and dissent is unfortunate.

We are disturbed by the pattern of growing nexus between student vigilante groups, youth wing of the ruling party, state and university authorities in colleges and university campuses across the country in order to mobilize the state machinery against vulnerable students. This has created a climate of fear and oppression in the country, and continually violates fundamental human and Constitutional rights of students.

We stand in support of the protesting students, staff and faculty of the University of Hyderabad and demand the following:

  1. Immediate withdrawal of police from the campus.
  2. Immediate release of, and withdrawal of all cases against, all arrested students and faculty.
  3. Suspension of the Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao.
  4. Judicial enquiry into the role of the HRD Ministry, the HRD Minister and Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya in inciting violence against Dalits on campus.
  5. Independent enquiry into the incidents of violence on the campus including the role of the ABVP in vandalising the Vice-Chancellor's office.
  6. Action against police personnel named by students in their complaints.
  7. Passage of the “Rohith Act” against caste discrimination in education.”

A partial list of the signatories is as follows:

  1. Lawrence Cohen, Director, Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  2. Navtej K Purewal Deputy Director, South Asia Institute SOAS University of London
  3. Akhil Gupta, Director, Center for India and South Asia (CISA), UCLA
  4. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), MIT
  5. Michael Davis, Professor Emeritus, Department of Creative Writing, University of California Riverside
  6. Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, The Oakland Institute
  7. Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University
  8. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA
  9. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
  10. G. Arunima, Professor and Chair, Centre for Women's Studies, School of Social Sciences, JNU
  11. Sandeep Pandey, former Visiting Faculty, IIT, BHU, Varanasi
  12. Michael D. Yates, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, United States
  13. Abha Sur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  14. Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
  15. Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair, Department of International Development Studies, Trent University, Canada
  16. Apoorvanand, University of Delhi
  17. Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Women’s Studies Department, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  18. Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  19. Surinder S. Jodhka, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  20. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University
  21. Sangeeta Kamat, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  22. Dr. Shailaja Paik, University of Cincinnati
  23. Kevin B. Anderson, Professor of Sociology, University of California Santa Barbara
  24. Tithi Bhattacharya, Professor of History, Purdue University
  25. Pranav Jani, The Ohio State University
  26. Vinay Gidwani, University of Minnesota
  27. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  28. Alpa Shah, London School of Economics
  29. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  30. Srirupa Roy, University of Göttingen, Germany
  31. Rahul Varman, IIT Kanpur
  32. Ashwini Tambe, University of Maryland, College Park
  33. Jens Lerche, SOAS, University of London
  34. Gillian Hart, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  35. Adrian Wilson, Social Anthropology, London School of Economics
  36. Ayesha Kidwai, Professor ,Jawaharlal Nehru University
  37. Meher Engineer
  38. Aishwary Kumar, School of Humanities & Sciences, Stanford University
  39. Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
  40. Jyoti Puri, Chair and Professor of Sociology, Simmons College
  41. Abdul JanMohamed, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  42. Dr. Nathaniel Roberts, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Goettingen, Germany
  43. Paula Chakravartty, New York University
  44. Atul Sood, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  45. Prof. Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  46. Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History, Arizona State University
  47. Nandini Chandra, Delhi University
  48. Elisabeth Weber, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  49. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  50. Prof. Rupa Viswanath, University of Goettingen, Germany
  51. Rama Baru, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  52. Svati Shah, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  53. Immanuel Ness, Professor, City University of New York
  54. Balmurli Natrajan, William Paterson University
  55. Veena Hariharan, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  56. Rajat Datta, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  57. Geraldine Forbes, Professor, State University of New York, Oswego
  58. Joya Misra, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  59. Richard Seymour, London School of Economics
  60. Susan Visvanathan, Professor of Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  61. Dr. Pérez de Mendiola, Richard Armour Professor of Modern Languages, Chair,
  62. Dept. of Latin American, Caribbean and Spanish Literatures and Cultures & Humanities, Scripps College
  63. Peter Spiegler, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Economics, UMass, Amherst
  64. Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  65. Atreyi Dasgupta, Baylor College of Medicine
  66. Kuver Sinha, Syracuse University
  67. Sirisha Naidu, Wright State University
  68. Siddhartha Mitra, Programmer, Rockefeller University
  69. Samantha Agarwal, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
  70. Anup Gampa, PhD Candidate, University of Virginia
  71. Anu Mandavilli, Friends of South Asia
  72. Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  73. Nandini Dhar, Assistant Professor, Florida International University
  74. Michael Levien, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University
  75. Devika Dutt, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  76. Smita Ramnarain, Assistant Professor of Economics, Siena College
  77. Taki Manolakos, Wright State University
  78. Valentina Dallona, Johns Hopkins University
  79. Iveta Jusova, Carleton College, USA
  80. Aditi Chandra, University of California, Merced
  81. Hee-Young Shin, Wright State University
  82. Anjali Arondekar, UC Santa Cruz
  83. Jinee Lokaneeta, Drew University
  84. Ajay Chandra, University of Warwick
  85. Xiao Yu, Peking University
  86. Bettina Apthekar, UC Santa Cruz
  87. Anirban Karak, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  88. Natasha S K, Syracuse University
  89. Mitul Barua, Syracuse University
  90. Simmy Makhijani, San Francisco State University
  91. Sofia Gavtadze, Solidarity Network, Georgi
  92. Avishek Konar, Alumnus, The Ohio State University
  93. Robert Carley, Wright State University
  94. Dia Da Costa, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
  95. Ann Smock, University of California, Berkeley
  96. Liz Mount, Syracuse University
  97. Terese V Gagnon, Syracuse University
  98. Giorgi Kobakhidze, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
  99. Levin Ahmed, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  100. Christos Mais, Universiteit Leiden
  101. Taveeshi Singh, Syracuse University
  102. Aniruddha Das, Columbia University
  103. Safar Safqat, St Mary’s College of Maryland
  104. Ramaa Vasudevan, Colorado State University
  105. Osman Keshawarz, doctoral student, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  106. Narendra Subramaniam, McGill University
  107. Ammel Sharon, University of Pennsylvania
  108. Gventa Gventsadze
  109. Borisi Cirekidze
  110. Minakshi Menon, Max Planck Institute, Berlin
  111. Dmitri Khuskivadze
  112. Salo Kaladze
  113. Judith Rodenbeck, UC Riverside
  114. Ashok Prasad, Colorado State University
  115. Priyanka Srivastava, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  116. Arani Roy, Brandeis University
  117. Dag Erik Berg, University of Gottingen, Germany
  118. Rahul Nair, Antioch College, USA
  119. Gajendran Ayyathurai, Goettingen University, Germany
  120. Balaji Narasimhan, William Paterson University, United States
  121. Ember Skye Kanelee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  122. Jungyeon Suh, Independent Researcher, United States
  123. Kannan Srinivasan
  124. Roli Verma, University of New Mexico
  125. Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College, US
  126. Lalit Batra, University of Minnesota
  127. Avanti Mukherjee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  128. Tyler Hansen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  129. Subho Basu, McGill University, Canada
  130. Laurie Nisonoff, Hampshire College, United States
  131. Satya Mohapatra, MIT
  132. Julia Corwin, University of Minnesota
  133. Parama Roy, UC Davis
  134. Krishna Melnattur, Washington University School of Medicine
  135. Rupal Oza, Hunter College, City University of New York
  136. Noeleen McIlvenna, Wright State University
  137. Daniel Thompson, Johns Hopkins University
  138. Jesse Knutson, University of Hawaii, Manoa
  139. Prashant Keshavmurthy, McGill University, Canada
  140. Anasuya Sengupta, Berkeley, USA
  141. Uditi Sen, Hampshire College
  142. Zarrina Juraqulova, Denison University, USA
  143. Kiran Asher, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  144. Prakash Kashwan, University of Connecticut, Storrs
  145. Hamid Rezai, Pitzer College, USA
  146. Anindya Dey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  147. Lara Deeb, Scripps College, USA
  148. Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota
  149. Vatsal Naresh, Columbia University
  150. Niharika Yadav, Princeton University
  151. Bedatri Datta Choudhury, NYU
  152. Sanjiv Gupta, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  153. Suvadip Sinha, University of Minnesota
  154. Ipsita Mandal, Perimeter Institute, Canada
  155. Poulomi Pal, Fulbright scholar
  156. Asmita Rangari, Activist, New Delhi
  157. Shipra Nigam, Activist, New Delhi
  158. Srinivas Lankala, Independent media scholar, Hyderabad
  159. Carolyn Elliott, University of Vermont
  160. Aviroop Sengupta, Columbia University
  161. Madhura Lohokare, Syracuse University
  162. Arijit Sen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  163. Suyapa Portillo Villeda, Pitzer College, USA
  164. Oishik Sircar, University of Melbourne
  165. Arjun Bagchi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  166. Greg Anderson, Ohio State University
  167. Prarit Agarwal, Seoul National University, Korea
  168. Sayori Ghoshal, Columbia University
  169. Uponita Mukherjee, Columbia University
  170. Suyapa Portillo Villeda, Pitzer College
  171. Patricia Morton, University of California, Riverside
  172. Sofia Checa, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  173. Arpan Roy, John Hopkins University
  174. Cynthia Correa, The University of Texas at Austin
  175. Parvathy Binoy, Syracuse University, Syracuse
  176. Jonathon Hurd, RN, Seattle
  177. Varuni Bhatia, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  178. Erin McElroy, UCSC, Director, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
  179. Geert Dhondt, John Jay College, The City University of New York
  180. Mithun Bhowmick, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign