The students of The English Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad are going to stage a hunger strike on November 6 at 1 pm. In a statement issued, which EdexLive has access to, read, “In the face of the English and Foreign Languages University Administration’s continued apathy towards students’ concerns and the extremely repressive measures employed to curb dissent on campus, the student community of EFLU has decided upon indefinite and relay hunger strikes starting from 1 p.m. on 6th November 2023.”
To recall, these protests date back to October 20 in response to the physical and sexual assault of one of the students on campus. So far, the university has filed 15 FIRs (First Investigation Reports) against students in 17 days.
Demands of students
In a notice shared by a student who wished to remain anonymous, the demands of the students where stated as follows:
1. Justice for the survivor and arrest of the perpetrators
2. Withdrawal of the wrongful FIRs and show cause notices against students
3. Reconstitution of the ICC with elected student representatives, strictly in accordance with UGC regulations, and without administrative members, especially those who have shown their inability to handle such a case sensitively and responsibly.
4. Removal of the Proctorial Board, who have prioritised surveillance over safety, failed to ensure security for students and showed themselves to be deeply anti-student and insensitive
5. Resignation of the Vice Chancellor, who has overstayed his rightful tenure, evaded students’ demands for an open meeting, and tacitly condoned the administration’s targeting of students through tactics of intimidation
6. Immediate conducting of the Student Union elections, to which the Vidhan Sabha elections are not an impediment
7. Immediate cessation of surveillance and harassment of students by guards, and lifting of restrictions on students’ mobility and access to campus spaces.
“We insist that these demands be met immediately, and a declaration of the same be given to us in writing,” the statement read. Speaking to EdexLive, a student of the university, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “This hunger strike is a result of the Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof E Suresh Kumar’s letter which did not address any of our concerns.” The VC issued a letter with regards to the matter on November 3 and EdexLive has access to the same.
In the letter issued by the VC, he said he was deeply moved by the incident and directed the university’s concerned officials to act immediately. Additionally, he said while he was occupied addressing the issue by coordinating with the police, a few students had been spreading misinformation to block entry and exit points of the administrative building creating “considerable suffering and trauma” to the senior faculty and other staff members. Citing a display of unpleasant posters on October 19, 2023, he said, “This negative and baseless campaign against me is unwarranted, when none of my words or actions suggest any attempt to downplay the seriousness of the incident, directly or indirectly.”
Assuring “sternest action against the culprits, if they belong to this University”, the VC in his letter said on October 26, the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report was sent to the police. Giving details on the university’s efforts to nab the culprits, he appealed “whoever might have some information about the culprits can pass it on to the University authorities, or to the police.” The identity would be kept strictly confidential, he said.
To ensure the safety and security of students and employees, the VC stated that the university has been, “compelled to implement certain restrictions and take some preventive measures” by following “restrictions on the entry of delivery executives, and visitors, to help put in place some more safety measures.”
Stressing the need to protect the goodwill of the university achieved over the years, the VC requested saying, “I request each one of you not to be influenced by rumours and to think logically and seek to protect the image of the University as a premier institution.” Further, “You have my solemn assurance that representations on genuine issues presented to the teacher-administrators concerned, such as the Dean, Students’ Welfare, or the Proctor, will be examined expeditiously, and solutions will be found, according to the Act, Statutes, Ordinances, and Rules and Regulations of the University,” he assured.
Responding to this letter, the students said, “We, the students of the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, strongly condemn Vice-Chancellor Prof. E. Suresh Kumar’s letter dated 3/11/2023 as a callous attempt to evade accountability. Coming after 17 days of deliberate silence and complete administrative failure following an incident of sexual assault, the letter addresses none of the students’ concerns and is yet another illustration of the administration’s continuing apathy.”
Students highlighted the lapses in the ICC report, the administration systematically targeting students, claims of threatening an assistant professor with disabilities and other charges against the students as not true. Additionally, all these concerns have evidence and proof for proving these concerns.
Citing that they were, “profoundly shocked by the several misleading statements made” in the VC’s letter, they urge for their demands to be met. Hence, a hunger strike has been scheduled to be held tomorrow.