The students at The English Foreign Language University (EFLU) have crossed 120 hours of hunger strike in a fight for justice in the October 18 sexual assault incident and also for students’ safety on campus. The students told EdexLive that parents of hunger strikers are being called to inform about the strike while letters sent by the parents are completely ignored by the university.
To recall, a female student was allegedly sexually assaulted by three unidentified men on the campus on October 18. Ever since then, the students have resorted to protest and later, initiated a hunger strike, blaming the lapses of the administration in taking swift action. On November 10, the Women’s Collective of the student community wrote to the National Commission for Women, the Telangana State Commission for Women and others seeking intervening and redressal of their concerns.
The parents of the students have also written twice to the university regarding ‘urgent Concerns Regarding Student Safety at EFLU Hyderabad’. The first letter was sent on November 5 and the second email was sent on November 10 along with a copy of the same to the President of India Draupadi Murmu, Governor of Telangana Tamilisai Soundararajan, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar and Chairperson, National Commission for Women Rekha Sharma.
“On November 6, the VC made a statement in which he said he didn’t get any letter. The parents sent it again in physical copy by registered post and confirmed via tracking that it was received (8/11/2023). On November 10, parents sent an ultimatum email saying that if they receive no response in 48 hours, they would file a writ petition in the Telangana High Court,” a member of the student community told EdexLive.
Apart from pointing out the lapses of the administration as alleged by the students, the parents in their letter dated November 5, said “we have been forbidden from visiting our own children on campus.” However, the recent letter sent on November 11 read, “Under the circumstances, we are forced to take recourse to other means of ensuring justice and safety for our children. If no administrative response to either this letter or to our children’s demands is forthcoming within 48 hours, we shall be compelled to take the matter to higher legal authorities via writ petition in the High Court.”
Calls to parents
Speaking to EdexLive, a representative from the student community informed that on November 10, hunger strikers’ parents received calls from the proctor’s office. Giving more details, the student said that on November 9, the COE and Proctor enquired whether the parents of the students on hunger strike had prior knowledge of their ward being on hunger strike.
On November 10, the COE collected details including parents’ contact numbers of the hunger strikers. Despite the COE giving reassurance that these details were only for his information, the students’ parents have received calls from the administration stating their wards are participating in the strike, the student added.
The student community in a statement released today, November 11 said, “This was done to maliciously build parental pressure on the students to call off their strike. Neither do the University Ordinances or Statutes make a provision for such a communication to students’ parents/guardians, nor does the University have any legal grounds which entitles it to pass on such information to parents of legal adults, without consent.”
Further, they alleged that in the meantime, letters sent by the parents have been “steadily ignored’. Condemning the university’s acts of vindictiveness on the administration’s behalf, the student community said, “the students will not back down on their rightful demands.”
Besides these, the students also point out the incompetence of EFLU health care staff. To recall, the primary demands of the student as per a statement issued on November 9 are:
— Student representatives in the ICC
— Withdrawal of FIRs and show-cause notices, Student union elections, and removal of the Proctorial office remain unchanged