University of Hyderabad's Joint Action Committee (JAC) has alleged the bust of dalit icon B R Ambedkar was "removed" from the shopping complex area in the varsity at the behest of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, a claim denied by the administration today.
Yesterday, a group of students and teachers of the varsity, also known as Hyderabad Central University (HCU), held a protest on the campus over the issue and decided to lodge a police complaint in this regard.
"The Deans Committee recommended removal of tents and structures, named 'Velivada' besides the bust of Ambedkar from the shopping complex on the campus. These structures reflected the struggle for self respect...Removal of bust of B R Ambedkar is insult to Dalits," said D Prashant who has been leading the JAC's protest over the suicide of dalit Ph.D scholar Rohith Vemula in January.
He alleged the bust was removed "at the behest of" UoH Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile "in nexus with other accused against whom a police case was registered in the wake of Vemula's death".
Categorically denying any role in the matter by administration, UoH Pro Vice-Chancellor Vipin Srivastava today said, "the University has not issued any orders – written or oral – for the removal of Dr B R Ambedkar's bust from the shopping complex area in the University campus.
"While the students told media, and also the security officer (on Monday afternoon) that the bust in question was removed, allegedly at the behest of the varsity administration, on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, (i.E. July 3 and July 4) they did not even mention this, let alone protest about it, in their meeting with the newly-joined Registrar on July 4," Srivastava stated in a release.
The Pro VC stated that as soon as the students reported the matter to Security Officer on July 4, he checked with two security guards, who were on duty in shopping complex on the night of July 3, and was informed that the bust was there for sure around 6 AM of July 4 when their shift got over.
Srivastava further said, "if the university receives any complaint, efforts will be made to get the complete details in this incident through an appropriate inquiry".
Vemula's suicide on January 17 had sparked massive protests in the varsity as well as outside resulting in a fierce political slugfest, with a string of political parties and dalit organisations siding with students and accusing the BJP and varsity administration of being anti-dalit.
After Vemula's death, students had set up tents and installed a 'Rohith Smaraka Stupa' at the shopping complex.
UoH has been witnessing sporadic protests since the dalit scholar's death demanding Podile's dismissal.