Palpable anger against KCR in Osmania University

If K Chandrashekar Rao was the political face of the Telangana movement, the prestigious Osmania University in the heart of Hyderabad was the epicentre with students fuelling the separate statehood agitation.

Both KCR and students of the Osmania University, established during the Nizam era, complimented each other in the struggle for a separate Telangana state from 2009 and 2014. Four-and-a-half years down the line, an unbridgeable gulf seems to have developed between the first chief minister of the Telangana state and students of the 100-year-old University.

Students of the university, especially Ph. D scholars who spearheaded the Telangana movement between 2009 and 2014 as post-graduate students, scoff at the TRS and Rao for “betraying the people” of Telangana by reneging on several of the promises made during the 2014 assembly elections.

The university, which boasts of illustrious alumni that include KCR himself, was the hotbed of the Telangana agitation in Hyderabad with students in large numbers erupting in protests and keeping up the momentum for the “just demand” for a separate Telangana state for five years. At least half-a-dozen students allegedly committed suicide to stress the demand for a separate state.

Students of the University, some of whom got elected as lawmakers in 2014 elections mostly belonging to the TRS, had pinned hopes on KCR as they expected him to generate more jobs, especially in the government sector, and fill vacancies in departments and in universities. Many are now very vocal in expressing their support to the Congress-led People’ Alliance in the coming elections.

Though KCR acknowledged students’ role in the agitation, students recall that he never bothered to visit the campus after Telangana came into existence in 2014 and he became the chief minister – he set foot on the campus only once in 2016 while accompanying the then President Pranab Mukherjee as part of the centenary celebrations of the institution.

“He (KCR) is scared of coming to the campus because he does not have the face to appear before us and answer our questions. And moreover, he did not keep up promises made to the people of Telangana and has only furthered his political interests by promoting those from his family,” D Suresh, a student, told DH.

The anger is much palpable among those scholars who were jailed during the height of the agitation in 2009. “We were jailed for more than a week in 2009 for achieving Telangana. We are not happy even 4.5 years after Telangana came into existence because there is no democracy in the new state. Every divergent opinion is bulldozed,” Stalin, a Ph. D scholar and national executive member of the All India Student Federation said. 

The politically-active students and scholars say the only sector which KCR opened up for massive recruitment is the police department – ignoring other crucial departments like Education, Health and Social Welfare.

“Telangana has become a police state now. If a group of students are found sitting and talking, police would land there and question them. Never in the history of the university, there was police presence like it is now,” Balalaxmi, a Ph. D scholar who is associated with the Congress said.

However, Dr Bandaru Veerababu, a post-doctoral fellow at the university, feels the TRS government has met the expectations of the people of Telangana.

“No government in the past has concentrated like the TRS administration on boosting agriculture. The government has taken up projects to increase groundwater and provide safe drinking water to the people. I think KCR has done a good job,” Veerababu, a supporter of KCR, said.

Students say there has been no infrastructure upgrade to the university barring a new students’ hostel which is yet to be completed and more than 40 per cent of vacancies in teaching and non-teaching staff in the university are waiting to be filled. Restrictions on holding meetings outside the historic Arts College building have brought KCR’s image further down in the university camps.

“Arts College building holds a special place in Osmania University since meetings outside the historic structure had spawned many movements including the one for a separate Telangana state. Now one cannot hold meetings there. It was only during the Nizam rule, such a restriction was in place. Is he (KCR) competing or equating himself with the Nizam?” Stalin asked. 

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