Summons to protesters: HCU student body says police allegations are far from reality

Nearly eight months after an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest took place in Hyderabad, the Telangana police has issued back-dated summons to at least fourteen students of the University of Hyderabad for taking part in a protest by HCU Coordination Committee and MANUU Students’ Union in connection with an FIR registered in February 2020.

The Hyderabad Central University (HCU) Coordination Committee, a student collective formed by various student groups and at HCU to resist the CAA, takes cognizance of the recent “witch-hunt” of 14 student activists from HCU, against whom the Telangana police have filed an FIR on the “most absurd grounds.”

The Committee said it believes this is only the latest instance of intimidation and violence that the central government, in nexus with various state governments, has been religiously inflicting upon the democratic fiber of this country.

It alleged that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Madhapur has made a bunch of absurd and false allegations against students while talking to the news portal The Wire.

The umbrella body of students has denied DCP’s allegations as “they are again far from reality and could be termed as misleading at best” and challenged the DCP to produce any such video footage or other proof of them doing what he has alleged.

Read the full text of a statement issued by the HCU Coordination Committee

The HCU Coordination Committee (a student collective formed by various progressive student groups and associations at HCU to resist the unconstitutional and communal citizenship laws) takes cognizance of the recent witch-hunt of 14 student activists from HCU, against whom the Telangana police have filed an FIR on the most absurd grounds. We believe this is only the latest instance of intimidation and violence that the central government, in nexus with various state governments, has been religiously inflicting upon the democratic fiber of this country.

The Telangana Police have issued summons to the HCU students who participated in a peaceful protest gathering at MANUU on 21/02/2020. On the same day, Raidurgam Police had filed an FIR (section 144, 188) against 14 students alleging that we illegally gathered near MANUU premises and created a ruckus on the campus. What comes as a surprise is that, none of the 14 students were informed about the FIR until one of them received the summons on October 10th 2020 at his residence. The summon that asks us to appear on October 6th at the police station to explain why we shouldn’t be arrested without a warrant, is actually dispatched from Hyderabad on October 8th. On October 13th, another student received the notice which mentions the same date to appear before them. Subsequently, three more students received the same notice. This makes a total of five students who have received the police notice by the time of releasing this statement. What more could be added to this to make one understand the hidden agenda of the Telangana Police?

Also, it is no doubt that the university administration provided the details of the students with addresses without informing them and deserves strong condemnation.

This particular event which is mentioned in the FIR was an event where HCU Coordination Committee collaborated with the MANUU Students Union for a joint protest at MANUU. Event took place near Bab-E-Ilm inside MANUU campus without any disruptions and with due permission. The event included speeches, sloganeering, placard displays, and cultural programs. The students of MANUU and HCU had united against the oppressive onslaught of the Hindu nationalist BJP government against the constitution and secularism of the country. HCU Coordination Committee also takes strong note of the statement given by DCP Madhapur to news portal The Wire, in which he has made a bunch of absurd and false allegations.

The DCP has said that “students are planning to take out another march again now.” This is an outright lie and the DCP might be misinformed or trying to mislead the press. Almost all students are home after the university was forced to shut in view of the coronavirus lockdown since March 15th, 2020 and there are barely any students from the Coordination Committee on the campus. Also, some of the students have completed their degrees and have no plans to visit Hyderabad in the near future. So this allegation by the DCP holds no value.

The DCP while justifying the police intimidation has alleged that we came out on the road, obstructed traffic, and inconvenienced the public. He has also made some glaringly false and concocted charges against us by stating that he was witness to what happened. He has alleged that we obstructed the road, closed the doors of MANUU, and disallowed even the employees to enter the campus.

We outrightly deny these allegations as they are again far from reality and could be termed as misleading at best. If at all we had done something of that nature, the DCP was well within his rights to detain/arrest us at the time of the protest. Also, the timing of the protest was such that the employees must have left the campus. So employees entering the campus at 06:15pm and we disallowing doesn’t make any sense at all.

Also, we challenge the DCP to produce any such video footage or other proof of us doing what he has alleged.

We would like to clarify that our protest was disciplined and peaceful and all the students of HCU were spectacularly welcomed at MANUU by their students’ union members, other students, and security staff alike and nothing of the sort had happened as alleged by DCP Madhapur.

We once again unequivocally reject the baseless and malicious allegations leveled by Hyderabad police in the FIR against the members of HCU Coordination Committee and take resolve to continue our fight against the undemocratic CAA-NRC with more vigor.

Whether you call it unfortunate or shameful, this all comes in the midst of this pandemic at the time when the economy is crumbling; the pathetic state of health infrastructure has taken its toll on the population and health workers across the country; the livelihoods of millions of working-class families and individuals from underprivileged and depressed communities have been reduced to dust; students across the country are bearing the brunt of an inherently biased and exclusionary education system which has gone ‘online’ shrugging aside the acute problem of lack of accessibility and the consequent psychological stress upon students, and unprecedented landmarks are being scaled in hunger and unemployment.

This is a shame that the government and its machineries have chosen this tough time to go after students and are singularly preoccupied with relentlessly persecuting and harassing activists and political dissenters across the nation. What could be more shameful! What greater mockery can democracy face! What greater insult can the people suffer! There is no understating the immense disservice that this authoritarian, communal government is doing to the nation and its people.

We, the members of the HCU Coordination Committee, pay our tribute to the martyrs of this movement who fell victim to police brutality across the country. We demand justice for Muslims and innocent lives who were murdered in Delhi Pogrom orchestrated by the pro-CAA Hindutva brigade in last February. We affirm our solidarity to the people of Assam, who are running between the tribunal and NRC Sevakendras to hold their Citizenship legitimate before the register amid struggling against flood, pandemic, and poverty. We extend our support to hundreds of people who are jailed, violated, and harassed by different agencies for fighting against CAA, NRC, and NPR.We also salute the determination and sacrifice of various student leaders including Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Umar Khalid, and all others for taking this genuine fight against the CAA. Many of them have been illegally put behind the bars with malicious and ridiculous allegations. We demand that these brave and bright activists be released.

The HCU Coordination Committee also acknowledges the support from four Congress Members of Parliament, TN Prathapan (Trissur), Ramya Haridas ( Alathur), Dean Kuriakose (Idukki), and Benny Behnan (Chalakudy), who extended their solidarity to students and wrote letters to Telangana CM KCR and Home Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali requesting to intervene and repeal the charges against the students immediately.

We would also like to thank all other student groups/bodies and activists for pouring in support and voicing their concerns.

Thank you

Team HCU Coordination Committee