Published: 31st October 2019
UoH's Ambedkar Students Association dismisses allegations that attack victims were drunk
A mob of 60-80 people allegedly attacked two students and also a member of the Union. The victims themselves asked for a breathalyser test and claim the allegations as false
After the University of Hyderabad students protested on Wednesday evening against the violence that broke out on campus during Diwali celebrations, the administration has promised immediate action. All victims were members of the Ambedkar Students Association, including a recently elected Union member and they have filed a complaint with the police and the proctorial board.
On Sunday night, two individuals from ASA were at the Diwali celebrations organised by the 'MCA family' when a group of students who were allegedly from the ABVP began to beat up the students. According to witnesses, the ABVP members demanded to know why the ASA members were at the celebration when they have criticised the Brahmanical nature of Diwali as a festival. However, the ABVP President claims that none of the attackers were from the ABVP and that the issue is between the MCA students and the complainants.
"The call for DJ was an open one to the best of my knowledge and if that was so on what ground are 'you' questioning the participation of those people they had beaten up?" Abishek Nandan, the Students Union President questioned.
The ASA students said they were verbally abused with casteist slurs directed towards them and their families. Then the group began to get physical and beat up the two individuals, "One of them was chased down and not by a single person or even a few. An entire group 60-80 members began attacking two," one of the victims explained.
UoH students at a protest
Within the next few minutes, the Students Union general secretary, Gopi Swamy, also a member of the ASA tried to break up the fight. "Just as I reached a huge group was beating up two students. And then when they saw me they began to beat me. One of the victims said that for the first time he felt what it was to be a victim of mob lynching," Gopi said.
It was only when the Students Union President, Abishek Nandan arrived that the violence subsided, "The criminality and brutality that I had to witness that day at GB maidan will be something I never forget," Abishek said. The president said that when he arrived, they were able to break up the group and the victims were immediately rushed to the hospital as they had sustained grievous injuries.
Since the incident, the groups involved have given their own versions of what happened. The ABVP has stated that no one from the organisation was involved in the fight. "There was harassment happening and so the people harassing were asked to leave. But they came back with 15 more people and started a fight. However, no one from the ABVP was present there. It is between the MCA and the complainants. We have nothing to do with it, " the ABVP President, Abhishek Malhotra said.
But the Students Union president says that if that was, in fact, the case, the security guards should have been called. "The guards were right there, they could have called them, they could have taken them to the administration. They didn't do anything. Such violence is simply not justified," Abishek said.
The ASA said in their statement that they have nothing against the MCA students, "ASA has made it categorically clear that it was members of the ABVP in MCA and not MCA as a group that had carried out the attacks."
"Instead of stopping the DJ when the alleged harassment happened and calling up the authorities the mob took law and order into their own hands and unleashed brutal violence over Dalit students who went to participate in the event. And on what ground did they abuse and manhandled the Union General secretary who had gone there to resolve the matter?" Abishek said.
The ASA has released a statement completely denying the allegations made against the victims. "We would like to make it clear that the trigger for the incident was humiliation and casteist slurs and physical abuse that a group of MCA students belonging to ABVP unleashed upon two of our Dalit students," the Association said. On the allegation of the students being drunk, the ASA said that the two students who were attacked had asked for breathalyser tests to be conducted on them soon after the incident. "After they were beaten up in such a murderous fashion, the Dalit students were taken to the police station and to the hospital to obtain a medico-legal document. The victims had assertively asked the police to check them with breathalyser. So the question of being drunk is completely ruled out," the ASA stated.
Dismissing accusations of sexual harassment, the ASA reiterated the questions raised by Abishek, which is why the security wasn't called immediately. "It was our own students who reached the spot and intimidated the security guards and DSW," they explained.
According to another student who took to Facebook to speak about the incident pointed out that the accusation of the victims being drunk is a hollow one, "The premise of their argument becomes that it happened because the people (which they claim) were drunk. By that logical more than half of the crowd belonging from MCA were drunk. Apart from that, the union representatives went over there to address the issue. No amount of rationality can explain why they were being manhandled." He also compared the incident to mob lynching.
ASA during one of their protests earlier this year
The student also pointed out that this was the second time during Diwali celebrations that students belonging to MCA had beaten up non-MCA students. "Another incident happened recently where some MCA students were bursting crackers in a hostel and some hostel mates came and requested them to do it outside the hostel and not in the hostel corridor. To that, they responded by bursting more crackers not only in the corridor but also infront of all the rooms from where the request for bursting the crackers outside the hostel came. Not only that, they even threatened to manhandle them if they again come to ask them to do it outside the hostel, " he pointed out.
Abishek also made a reference to the 'MCA family's' not very reputable behavior, "As a student who has been on this campus since 2014, I don't need to be told regarding the 'MCA family' and the events they organise every year. I very well know how certain members of the 'family' give threats to other students and how the rest of the campus community are treated by those members."
However, the ASA said in their statement that they have nothing against the MCA students, "ASA has made it categorically clear that it was members of the ABVP in MCA and not MCA as a group that had carried out the attacks." The ABVP has said they will abide by the decisions of the proctorial board. "We urge both groups to sort out the issue, we are not involved in it," Malhotra said.
After the Students Union and other students protested, the administration has promised to take action and has also said they would consider constituting a committee to handle the issue.
(This copy has been updated with comments from the ABVP)