Night patrol by police at Hyderabad University angers students

Night patrol by police at Hyderabad University angers students

By: || Updated: 15 Sep 2015 04:05 AM
New Delhi: The University of Hyderabad has angered students by inviting police to patrol the campus at night, becoming a test case for a slew of stringent security guidelines the University Grants Commission has issued to campuses countrywide.


Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University who has initiated a Facebook protest against the "draconian" guidelines, said they were an assault on freedom and privacy and would make students feel more insecure than safe.


Neither JNU nor Delhi University has yet enforced the guidelines amid brewing student protests but some others have.


The University of Hyderabad, a central institution, cited no specific reason when it gave the police free access to its campus in May, weeks after the guidelines were issued in April. From July, an armed police patrol has been driving around the campus every night.


"We have internal security, yet the police have begun night patrols. They never came to the campus before but now have the legitimacy to come and pick up anybody," said Arpita Jaya, a protesting student.


Tathagata Sengupta, secretary of the teachers' association, said the police, emboldened by the free access, had picked up three Dalit students on "false charges" a fortnight ago.


"They were taken to Gachibowli police station and detained the entire day on the charge of involvement in a brawl," Sengupta said.


The police have issued pamphlets containing dos and don'ts for the students, asking them, among other things, not to post "anti-nation" comments on the social media.


"What is 'anti-nation' was not explained. If the police want, they can interpret an innocuous comment as 'anti-nation'. The idea is to scare the students," Sengupta said.


Last month, the university had invited Cyberabad police commissioner C.V. Anand to address its new students.


The English and Foreign Language University in Hyderabad, another central university, too has introduced strict checks at entry points since receiving the April circular. A student said CCTVs had been installed at the gates, and visitors were being photographed before being issued entry passes.


In Maharashtra, the state government-run Savitribai Phule Pune University has officially notified its intention to implement the April guidelines.


"The circular expects teachers to keep an eye on students, their personal lives," Kidwai said. "Every teacher is to be allotted 25 students and will act as their guardian and counsellor. Are teachers equipped and trained for the task?" she asked.


Kidwai said the higher education regulator seemed to want teachers to act as "informers".


"Students will not feel secure if the police can pick up anybody on frivolous allegations or teachers start enquiring about their personal affairs," she said.


Asok Barman, secretary-general of the All India Federation of University and College Teachers' Organisations, said most state government-run universities lacked boundary walls.


"They struggle to pay teachers' salaries on time since the state governments have reduced their grants. Where will they find the money for barbed wires?" he asked.


Calls and text messages failed to elicit any response from commission chairman Ved Prakash or secretary J.S. Sandhu.



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