Dalits beaten up by ABVP activists for holding beef festival

By Mohd. Ismail Khan, TwoCircles.net,

Hyderabad: The much controversial beef festival organized by Dalit organizations in historic Osmania University became a huge successes with more than 5,000 students participating in it on Sunday evening, but the festival ended in clashes between Dalits and members of Hindu right wing youth group ABVP.

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Dalit and some Leftist organizations in the Osmania University campus organized this event protesting against university administration’s decision for not including beef in the mess menu. Dalit organizations felt humiliated by the decision as beef eating is part of Dalit culture. Leftist organization gave unconditional support to Dalit groups as they felt the decision of the university authorities was against right to choose food.

Hindu Right wing organizations including its student wing ABVP had earlier warned the beef festival organizers of dire consequences if the festival was held in the campus, as according to them it was hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.

But Dalit and leftist organizations went ahead and organized the festival behind the premises of Ambedkar hostel on Sunday. The organizations like TSSV, PDSU, SFI, AISF, and TRSV conducted this event under the banner of Democratic Cultural Forum. Many students and even professors of the university turned up in huge number to support the festival.

The organizers of the event maintain that when right wing groups like ABVP install Ganesh or Durga idols in the campus and conduct 10 days festival each, no student protests against it, so ABVP should also be tolerant towards other festivals in the OU campus.

According to the festival organizers one more reason for the organization of this event was to tackle the growing influence of right wing forces in the campus and to enlighten the Dalits and make them feel proud of who they are and what their culture is.

The festival started at 5: p.m. in the evening with heavy police protection as precaution against the likely clashes. As expected ABVP activists from in and outside of campus assembled at the event ground and started throwing stones, they set ablaze two vehicles belonging to the media who were covering the fest, and even beat students who were returning after attending the fest. In the clashes five Dalit students were injured.

The dalit organizations retaliated and beat up ABVP activists with lathis and stones. Police intervened when the clashes between two groups became serious. Police restored to lathi charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse both the agitated groups.

The campus is still tense after late night clashes. It was the first ever beef festival organized in the campus. Prof Vishweshar Rao, one of the intellectuals who attended the fest told, “It is not just a festival, it is ideological war against the Hindutva and their culture. This festival has been a great success and expected to be copied in many universities in the country”.

Dalit organizations have described this beef festival as reclamation of their lost culture, while right wing Hindu groups have warned sever consequences if this event is repeated elsewhere in the state.