The registrar of Hyderabad Central University on Saturday told the state Human Rights Commission that no human rights were violated on campus. This comes after 27 students and two faculty members who were arrested on Tuesday after protesting against the University of Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile's return. They will remain in jail till at least Monday, as their bail plea has yet to be taken up. A member of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, which has been leading protests over Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula's death, said those arrested were not produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of detention, as mandated by law.
A local court has scheduled their bail hearing for Monday, The Indian Express reported. Students and faculty members launched agitations at the university after Podile, who is implicated in Vemula's suicide, returned after being "on leave" for two months.
According to IANS, the National Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognisance of the goings-on at the university and sent notices to the Human Resource Development Ministry, the Telangana government and the Hyderabad police commissioner. The NHRC, in a statement, said it had taken note of "media reports that there is an emergency-like situation at the University of Hyderabad, and there is no water, electricity, food and Internet services, and the ATMs are out of order".
The statement added, "Reportedly, there is heavy police presence on the campus. The university students are under immense fear and trauma due to indiscriminate arrests of about 25 students and two faculty members." The commission criticised the "high-handedness" of the university, state and police officials and added that "no one can be deprived of basic amenities like water, food and electricity by wilful act of the State."
Rights group Amnesty International on Friday demanded the immediate release of the students and faculty members and condemned the police brutality meted out to those protesting at the central university. It has also called for an independent investigation into the police's use of excessive force against them.
On Thursday, the Andhra Pradesh State Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the university, seeking a report from the vice chancellor by March 26 on a petition that alleged that the students' human rights had been violated. Spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi Party's Telangana unit PL Vishweshwar Rao filed the petition, in which he claimed university authorities had closed the hostels and cut off access to food, water, electricity and Internet, PTI reported. Students had tried to mobilise support through social media claiming the same, but later said food and water supplies had been restored on campus as the administration had been threatened with cases of human rights violations. Students will hold a candlelight vigil on Saturday night, to protest against the situation on campus.