The Telangana Police on Friday morning detained a group of about 100 education activists, representatives of students’ bodies, teachers’ associations and civil society organisations who had gathered at Gun Park in Hyderabad to inaugurate a 100-day yatra as part of a statewide campaign demanding free education for all.
The Save Education Committee, which organised the event, also protested against the state higher education board’s decision to scrap journalism, geography and human rights courses at government colleges while allowing private colleges to teach these subjects.
The committee’s general secretary and prominent educationist Professor G Haragopal, the organisation’s President Professor Chakradhar Rao and Organising Secretary Professor Laxminarayan were among those held. The Telangana Police allegedly shoved and pushed Professor Haragopal and others who had gathered. The educationist reportedly fell when the police were trying to detain him and injured his knee. Those detained were taken to different police stations across the city.
“The system seems to be reaching an intolerant point,” Professor Haragopal said after being released from Bolarum station. “Detaining and arresting people who are peacefully gathering to express their discontent is the new normal that is being set in all over the country and Telangana is keeping pace with that new normal.” He pointed out that the organisation was 40 years old and its meetings have never been disrupted in such a manner.
Professor Laxminarayan said the organisation had applied for permission at both the Saifabad police station and the police control room. The police, however, claimed they anticipated that the demonstrators would take out a rally, for which permission had not been granted. Those held were only taken into prevention custody, Venkat Reddy, a police officer at Saifabad police station, told Scroll.in.
The committee has been a vocal critic of the state government’s lack of efforts to recruit teachers at government schools, junior colleges and universities. It has been critical of rampant privatisation of education and the government’s policy of inviting foreign universities to set up campuses in the state, said Padmaja Shaw, a retired professor and journalist who is also a member of the committee.