The vice chancellor of Osmania University T Tirupati Rao on Sunday asserted that Maoists are not present on its campus. Addressing the media after a meeting of the peace committee on the campus, Tirupati Rao said that “the university authorities including myself have no information about the presence of Maoists”. He added: “Most of those who live in our hostels are our students. Even there are not many non-boarders on the campus.”
The vice chancellor’s new revelations fly in the face of the claims by the police and the government that Maoists have infiltrated the OU campus. This was the grounds on which a large police force including men from the Rapid Action Force and the anti-naxal Greyhounds had been deployed on the campus. This was also the basis on which the police tried to evict boarders from the campus on Sunday before the last.
The state government has moved the Supreme Court — even after a single judge and a division bench asked the police to move out of the campus — specifically on the apprehension of Maoist presence. Striking a sympathetic note, the vice chancellor said that “non-boarders are relatives of students who have come from very poor and rural backgrounds. They don’t live on the campus to indulge in any violence”. He, however, hastened to add that the administration was planning to speak to hostel students and the non-borders would be asked to leave.
But Praveen Kumar, joint commissioner of police (special branch) who is also a member of the peace committee said that “it is too early to come to a conclusion on the presence of Maoists on campus”. Kumar, however, maintained that his force will not withdraw from the campus. “The police are not against the democratic right of students to protest. We will, however, stop them if they try to take to the streets as there is a chance of it turning out to be a law and order problem,” Kumar said.
But the vice chancellor said that “the police will enter the campus only when called”. “If we need their help, we will request them to take charge on campus. But police will not enter the campus without my permission,” said Rao.
The vice chancellor also asked the students not to interrupt the academic year any further. “The students should realise that they might lose an academic year if they continue boycotting examinations,” said the vice chancellor. The vice chancellor said that his priority, however, is to maintain peace on campus. “Faculty members and others from the administrative team will interact with the students to maintain peace on campus,” the VC said.
In the peace meeting which was attended by members of the state police, faculty and students, a review of all instances of violence on OU campus was done. Meanwhile, OU-JAC representatives welcomed the statement of the vice chancellor which they said exposed the state government’s malicious propaganda.