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Film Screening at HCU on Ayodhya Dispute Stopped by Police, Students Protest Over 'Curtailing Freedom'

One of the students said that they took permission from the department head of sociology, informally. But before the screening started, the police and campus security arrived and confiscated their laptops.

Rishika Sadam | CNN-News18

Updated:August 22, 2019, 2:04 PM IST
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Film Screening at HCU on Ayodhya Dispute Stopped by Police, Students Protest Over 'Curtailing Freedom'
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Hyderabad: A day after six students were allegedly detained by the local Police for screening a documentary on Ayodhya dispute in the Hyderabad Central University, a group of students carried out a protest on Wednesday evening to fight against the University’s diktat.

On Tuesday, while the documentary ‘Ram ke Naam’ (In the name of God) was being screened, a group of policemen barged into a classroom making the campus hostile.

The 1992 documentary by Anand Patwardhan, shows the campaign by Vishva Hindu Parishad to build a Ram temple at the site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The film was banned on YouTube.

The screening was organised by the All India Students Association (AISA) and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI).

According to the AISA, the University authorities initially, gave a nod to the screening of the film and later retracted the ‘permission’ for ‘unknown reasons.’

“We also took permission from the department head of sociology, informally. Before the screening started, the Police and campus security arrived- our laptops were confiscated. They said this was ‘illegal’ and asked us to disperse,” said Daanish Gurung, student and AISA activist.

The students started a protest in the campus to release the six people who were allegedly detained by the police. Soon, videos of the police, dragging the students, started doing rounds over the social media.

However, the Gachibowli Police denied detaining any student, saying that the University administration had complained about a tense situation and needed help in the campus.

“We did not detain anyone. We went to the University, following a call from the administration, and did our usual check. We seized the laptops to conduct checks- since we were told that there was no permission for the screening”, said R Srinivas, Station Officer.

According to police, the students were asked to accompany the cops, while their laptops were being checked. The students were let off, in some time.

According to the students, the situation has got worse during the last few months. The University had also issued an order placing a ban on any kind of ‘protests and agitations’ at the campus.

“As per the notification of Commissioner of Police, there is a prohibition of assembly of five or more persons in the Cyberabad limits, under section 144 IPC,” according to the order released last month.

The notice said that following the Commissioner’s orders, similar restrictions will be imposed on the campus.

“Needless to say, over the past two weeks, an attempt has been made to curb the space for public discourse, and consequently democratic interaction. So far, it seems that the students are, and will continue, to fight for their democratic space”, said Nikhil Ravipati, a student at the university.

According to the students, even a ‘poetry session’ that was organized within the campus premises had Police and University Administration monitoring it.

Protests and agitations are not new in Hyderabad Central University. However, the situation deteriorated after Dalit Scholar Rohit Vemula’s death, which led to high-level security being deployed with constant monitoring. The university had also imposed checks on the entry of media on the campus, during that time.

According to the Gachibowli Police, they’ve always been cautious to avoid a ‘law and order’ situation on the campus. The Police have denied ‘constant surveillance’ on campus, saying they’re doing their duty.

Students claim that the recent move is a ‘threat’ to their freedom of speech.

“There’s a picture of fear in the entire country and HCU is also in a similar situation. This is a place where people could debate, discuss freely. Now, the government wants to end this culture and make it a ‘Police adda’ – this is dangerous,” adds Sonal Narayan, who was one fo the students allegedly detained.

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