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EFLU, UoH Students Detained Amid Hunger Strike Against Sexual Assault of Student

The hunger strike was launched demanding justice for the survivor of sexual assault.

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At least seven students from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad and about 20 students from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) were detained on Monday, 6 November, as they were launching hunger strikes against the alleged sexual assault of an EFLU student on the campus on 18 October.

The detainees were released after 7 pm, EFLU students told The Quint.

The students, in a statement on Sunday, 5 November, said they were launching an indefinite hunger strike and a relay hunger strike on the campus at 1 pm on Monday to protest the EFLU administration's "continued apathy towards students' concerns and the extremely repressive measures employed to curb dissent on campus."

Six students were on an indefinite hunger strike, whereas several others were on a relay hunger strike.

Just a few minutes into the strike, the Telangana Police allegedly detained the students, citing they didn't have the permission to protest on the campus.

In addition to the seven EFLU students and 20 UoH students who were detained, three former students of EFLU and eight people from progressive organisations have been detained. While 14 of them were at Nallakunta police station, 17 were at Amberpet police station, the students said.

The Quint has contacted the police and this story will be updated as and when we receive a response.

Speaking to The Quint on Tuesday, 7 November, a student said: "We are continuing with the protest without violence. The police have been here since last night."

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What Had Happened?

On the night of 18 October, a student of the university was allegedly physically and sexually assaulted by two men. Earlier that evening, a group of students had staged a protest at the New Academic Block (NAB) on the campus, after the admin allegedly "obstructed students from entering the building."

The survivor of the sexual assault, who had reportedly participated in this protest, said that she was out for a walk on the campus at around 10 pm when "someone pulled my hair from behind saying, 'We saw you today. This should not happen.'" The perpetrators were reportedly referring to her presence at the said protest.

The next day, on 19 October, at least 11 students from the varsity were booked by the OU City Police for allegedly staging protests demanding action against the perpetrators.

Cases were registered against the students on a complaint by Prof T Samson, the Proctor of EFLU. In the First Information Report (FIR) accessed by The Quint, the Proctor alleged that at around 5 am on 19 October, a group of 200 students assembled in front of his university quarters "with some pre-meditated plan to harm me."

He claimed the 11 students led this protest by "provoking" other students. They were booked under Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), among others, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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What Are the Students' Demands?

On 3 November, in a letter addressed to the students, the Vice Chancellor of EFLU, Prof E Suresh Kumar, said that the "Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the University conducted the inquiry [into the sexual assault case] and submitted its report with a recommendation to forward their findings to the police for investigation into the matter, in the absence of any specific information about the identity of the alleged culprits."

"As the Vice Chancellor of the University, I am vested with adequate academic, administrative, and disciplinary powers, which are only executed upon the investigation, recommendations, and findings by specific governing committees, University Officials, Statutory Officers, and designated officials. If the university is compelled to invoke these powers, it is purely in the larger interest of the University [sic]."
VC's letter

The students, meanwhile, launched the hunger strike on Monday, demanding the arrest of the culprits and the withdrawal of the "wrongful FIRs and show cause notices against students."

They also demanded that the EFLU administration reconstitute 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."

The students further sought the removal of the proctorial board as well as the resignation of the Vice Chancellor.

The hunger strike is still underway on the campus, the students told The Quint.

(This is a developing story. It will be updated with more details.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Hyderabad   Sexual Assault 

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