Violent clashes on Osmania campus over beef fest
One student opposing beef eating stabbed, vehicles torched
Tension flared up on the Osmania University campus over a beef festival organised by dalit students on Sunday evening to oppose “food fascism” in the hostels, with one student stabbed for opposing the do, police said on Monday. He has been admitted to Gandhi Hospital here.
Besides, the protesters set afire an Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation bus on Monday morning.
The university presented a scene of imbroglio on Sunday evening after several bouts of violent incidents left five students injured. Around 50 members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) allegedly barged into the festival venue in front of the Narmada Research Scholars (NRS) hostel on the university campus where beef biriyani was being served to around 200 supporters including students and professors, but police foiled their attempt to disrupt the event.
In the ensuing violence, a group of students attacked the ‘C’ hostel while two vehicles, including a media van were torched. As the two rival groups clashed, police resorted to firing teargas shells and lathicharge to disperse the mob.
The festival was a joint initiative of the Telangana Students Association, Progressive Democratic Student Union, Students Federation of India and students from English and Foreign Languages University. The organisers had claimed that consumption of beef was part of their culture, besides being an affordable source of nutrition.
Supporting their cause, P L Visveswara Rao, former professor at the department of journalism and communication at the university, said students “have the right to seek a particular food” and flayed the university authorities and the police for failing to protect the participants in the festival.
Following the violence, all routes leading to the university have been sealed and additional forces have been deployed on the campus. Led by the ABVP, the protesters called for a bundh on Monday.
“Beef is a basic dalit food, and we want this upper caste hostility towards it to end,” said Kancha Ilaiah, a Dalit ideologue who teaches at the university. “Ours is an ideological fight. Everyone has the right to eat what they want to in a democratic set up,” said B Sudershan, a research scholar. It is to be noted that the beef stall has been a major attraction of the Hyderabad university’s annual fest “Sukoon” since 2006.
Osmania University Vice-Chancellor S Satyanarayana said nobody had approached him for permission to hold a beef festival. “The event cannot be allowed, given the history of caste tensions on the campus, but all precautions are taken to avert any untoward incident,” he said. The whole episode featured prominently in the micro blogging site Twitter with the rival groups making the most of the platform to indulge in verbal bashing.
Well-known writer and Dalit rights activist Meena Kandasamy was among those who was present at the university campus. She tweeted about how she had to be escorted out of the university in a police vehicle.