[VoxSpace Exclusive] Chaos Ensues In University Of Hyderabad – Is Crushing Dissent And Patriarchy The Way Ahead?

The Atrocity Of Indecent Behaviour – All In The Name Of “Raiding”

For a university that has continuously been in the news for one unfortunate incident after other, UoH administration sure has not learnt their lesson. In a recent incident, ten students have suspended citing breach of discipline.

Chaos ensued when on Friday administration conducted a raid on Men’s Hostel J in UoH. There was already growing disagreement among student about the frequent and untimely raids. The said raid took place at around 11.30 p.m. Particularly one room was targeted as they received a tip-off that there was a girl in that room. What followed was complete chaos. The girl was asked to keep her mouth shut, the boy to whom the room belonged was hassled and then issued a show cause notice.

Soon students started gathering, and GSCASH (Gender Sensitising Committee Against Sexual Harassment) representatives also intervened in the matter. The situation, however, was further intensified when students demanded answers about the maintenance of hostel and proper amenities. This definitely did not go down with administration representatives, and ultimately harsh disciplinary measures were taken against the involved students. Pratyush Nirjher, whose room was the one to be raided, Athira Unni, who was the girl in question who was ‘found’ in the room and Sagnik Saha, a scholar from the university has been suspended for a duration of two years and others including the GSCASH representative Tinanjali Dam have been suspended for six months from hostel and academic programme, with immediate effect.

Different Versions Of The Incident Come Forth – Does The University Have An Ulterior Motive? 

The administration has alleged that the students engaged in physical and verbal abuse, however, the students have a different story to tell. Students who were present there has claimed the story of physical abuse to be completely fabricated. Thus the suspension notice issued had sparked off a major protest that has brought forward several issues that the administration is crippled by. Though the suspension was effected as a breach of the code of discipline, most students are arguing that ulterior motive behind the crackdown is different.

“This suspension letter is a biased report in the first place because the student’s account was not heard even when they were called for a hearing. The committee was biased to not take into account the repeated allegation of students against Dr Panigrahi( warden)who came for checking in an intoxicated state. Secondly, this is a new trend in the university to create fear amount students and repress voices against administrative coercion, misconduct and gender insensitivity. It also shows that the administration is at a point where they are not ready to engage with students against their problems in this campus. With so many suicides and suspensions coming from UoH, it only shows the lack of administration’s notice of students welfare,” says Debamita Mukherjee, a scholar from the university.

Protesting students have refused to accept the report of the committee as the formation of it was not in accordance with the prescribed rule.

“The incident happened on Friday night, and the committee was formed on Saturday morning itself. There was no proper representation from all the sections and then we were not even given a chance to justify our actions. Also, the suspension order itself is vague and confusing. It does not guarantee that after the suspension period is over, we will be allowed to continue our stay in the hostels. The administration is not giving any definite answer and further complicating the matters. We have no idea what is in store for us. Police patrolling has also been affected in the campus, and the air is heavy with the possibility of a vehement protest,” says Keshaban Shankar Roychowdhury, a research scholar from the university and one of the ten students who was suspended.

Whatever the situation might be, the UoH administration’s actions are a clear indication that they are targeting the voice of dissent on the campus and trying to silence them putting their academic career at stake.

Rampant Moral Policing And The Role Of The Administration

The incident has also brought forward the raging issue of moral policing that many campuses in the country have started a dialogue on. In gender sensitive space like varsities restricting the movement of girls in the university, premises is being seen by many as a reflection of the patriarchal mindset that university administration endorses. The idea that women are weak damsels in distress in need of male protection exudes from the lame rule that the administration is trying to enforce.

“It is a strong and direct attack on the agency of women community in the campus and the institution that stands for gender justice. In the entire history of UoH, this is the first time women have been issued a notice, including the GSCASH representative. The patriarchal admin is oppressing and silencing the women questioning regressive rules,” says Athira Unni, the female scholar who was suspended for being ‘found’ in the men’s hostel.

Every individual who crosses the threshold of a university is an adult, and an act like this is a direct violation of privacy. The double standard is even more glaring when the Hostel for international students have a common living space for male and female students and scholars. In fact the constant use of terms like raid or tip-offs make it sound more like a shady operation against smugglers rather than a university taking disciplinary actions against its students.

 

What Exactly Does The Administration Mean When it Uses The Word “Raid”?

The action which was probably a reaction to the assumption that a boy and girl can have only one business in a closed room is medieval and disgusting, especially in a university that boasts of a thriving intelligentsia.

And even if that was the case, it is high time that university authorities be less concerned about consensual intimacy between two sensible and educated adults and pay more attention to the list of unfortunate deaths and other incidents that have now become a daily occurrence in the UoH campus. Infrastructure, amenities, casteism, rampant patriarchy and unfair administrative practices have more potential to harm the sanctity of the educational institution than girls entering boy’s hostels.

Even the suspension notice that was issued reeked of a strong patriarchal and misogynistic tone, which further angered the student community.

“The recent incidents of raids on-campus hostels is an attempt to curb the rights of the students. It is very lame that the wardens are reducing the identity of a girl to a mere object by stating that “girl is found” in men’s hostel thereby defaming a girl. The authorities also say that the cohabitants of men’s hostel complain about girl visitors without revealing the identity of the complainer. The administration is hell-bent on targeting individuals whoever wants to express their views.”

After the storm that sent the entire university in topsy-turvy after the death of Rohith Vemula, the never-ending antics of university administration, coupled with suicides, deaths and protests in the campus has made it evident that students have completely lost faith in the administration and pushing them further would probably lead to another uproar on a scale that is unheard of.

The Following are the materials which should bring the reader to be aware of how things turned to the worst. 

Conversations With GSCASH (Gender Sensitising Committee Against Sexual Harassment): Link To Document Here.

Conversations Between Pratyush Nirjhar and Hostel Warden: Link To Document Here

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