Massive violence broke out this evening on the Osmania University campus where a group of students under the leadership of a PhD student, Sudarshan Bala Boina, organized a ‘beef festival’ to protest what they said “imposing brahminical food culture on Dalits.”
A media vehicle was torched; several lamps and other campus property were damaged after the cane-wielding police and stone-throwing counter protesters clashed. In all, 12 students have been taken into custody. The campus is tense and many students fearing violence have fled.
Around 200 people, mostly students took part in the ‘beef feast.’ It began around 5 pm with Boina and others speaking on the democratic rights of Dalits to have the food rights. They denounced the “brahminical hold on Dalits.” After the speeches, the feast began. Towards the end of the feast, some 100 students from the nearby hostel marched in shouting slogans of “denigrating Indian culture and provoking violence.” The University administrators had sought police help to prevent untoward incidents. The police remained battle-ready. The protesters, said to belong to ABVP, asked the police to go back and take action against provocateurs. They also wanted the vice chancellor resigned for allowing the public feast “intended to provoke violence.” They sat in dharna.
After a while, a few pieces of rocks landed in the venue and suddenly students on dharna were astir and then they went into a rampage clashing with police and those organized the feast. However, the organizers of feast advised restraint but it was of little avail. As stones flew thick and fast the police first burst a few tear-gas shells but as violence continued, they resorted to a lathi-charge. It aggravated the situation and the rampaging students attacked the media and their vehicles which were in readiness on the campus. Someone put a media vehicle on fire and there were shrill cries and violent curses all around. As many lamps were smashed a semi-darkness spread across the violent scene and this engendered trouble.
The OU police summoned reinforcement from Tarnaka and special police and the violence was brought under control after an hour and a half but the whole campus erupted and remained tense through the night.
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