Policemen threatened to rape women students, says fact finding team

Hyderabad : Policemen, who cracked down on students protesting at University of Hyderabad, threatened to rape the women students, revealed an independent fact finding team.

The team, which went into March 22 incidents on the campus, found that there was widespread assault of women students. “Abusive language and threats to rape the women students were heard from police,” said the interim report by the panel comprising senior human rights activists, academicians and lawyers.

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The team, which met students, faculty members, police and Telangana home minister, also claimed that targeted statements towards minority students and describing them as “terrorists” were also heard.

The team members told reporters on Saturday that students and faculty members arrested were not presented before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law. “Police could have given bail but the students and faculty were remanded in judicial custody,” said the report.

Police had arrested 25 students and two faculty members when they were staging a protest against P. Appa Rao resuming his duties as the vice chancellor.

Appa Rao, his representatives and other university officials refused to meet the panel.

The committee said that the registrar banned the entry of media, and political, social, students groups on March 23 so that nobody could meet the faculty or students on campus and see for themselves the place of occurrence of the violence let loose a day earlier.

The panel said the return of Appa Rao triggered the disruption of peace on campus and the police inaction in the case registered against him, central minister Bandaru Dattatreya and ABVP leader Sushil Kumar under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) for research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in January also contributed to the situation.

It recommended that vice chancellor must be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation in the best academic and interest and in restoring a peaceful environment in the university, while police need to step up their response in dealing with the cases filed.

The panel recommended that criminal investigation should be immediately conducted and action should be taken against the police who have wilfully neglected their duty under section 4 of the SC/ST amendment act, 2016.

It called for immediately restoring normalcy of the university. “Free mobility in and out of the university and this must be brought back to regular functioning. This is essential for the academic health of the university, which has suffered significantly.”

The members of the panel are Henri Tiphagne (Human Rights Defenders Alert), Tara Rao (Amnesty International), Burnard Fatima (International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism), Kuffir Nalgundwar (Round Table India), Kiruba Munusamy (Supreme Court lawyer), Beena Pallical (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights), Ramesh Nathan (National Dalit Movement for Justice), Asha Kowtal (All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch) and Paul Divakar (Asia Dalit Rights Forum).