Hyderabad: It seems as if the University of Hyderabad’s administration is hell-bent on ‘purifying’ the campus space. Ahead of the commemoration of Rohith Vemula, the UoH scholar who committed suicide, on January 17, the administration of Hyderabad Central University had taken it upon themselves to ‘whitewash’ the wall paintings of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, along with some quotes of Dr. B.R Ambedkar.
The students had also installed a ‘Wall of Martyrs’ in the North Shopcom in the university, as a tribute to those who have been killed during the anti-CAA protests in the country on January 15. However, this was also painted over by the University admin on January 17, the day of Rohith Vemula’s fourth death anniversary.
Upon enquiring with the Chief Security Officer (CSO), it was found that the officials were acting upon the orders from the Registrar of the university. The officials went on to say that “it was part of a routine clearing of walls from posters.”
Students allege that the university administration is attempting to curb dissenting voices while selectively white-washing paintings and posters that may seem threatening to the ruling government. “Without a doubt, the admin is selectively taking down posters and pictures in the campus, especially in the context of the CAA issue. While there are many posters on campus, they have taken down the preamble and Ambedkar quotes in particular, on Rohith Shahadath Din. The only way to defy the admin is by repeatedly occupying these public spaces on campus,” said Abhishek Nandan, Students’ Union president.
“The constant heckling and disrupting of programs organized on Muslim issues is a routine practice by security of HCU. Any program on Muslim issue is a security threat for them. So, this attitude is visible not just in the destruction of graffiti, but in these institutional structures itself,” said Irfan Ali, Fraternity.
This is not the first time that the university has taken down graffiti and instalments. Last year, in January, the administration removed ‘Velivada’: the structure erected by Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and four other students at North Shopcom after they were suspended from the university and their hostel in 2016. While the structure remained intact for three years post Rohith’s suicide, the university had removed them in the middle of the night on January 6, 2019.