Hyderabad: EFLU students detained as cops attempt to foil hunger strike

Hyderabad: At least 7 students of English and Foreign Language University (EFLU) were reportedly detained by the police as they began their indefinite hunger strike on Monday, November 6, over the administration’s disregard of the students’ issues and an unsatisfactory probe into the sexual assault of a fellow student.

The protest was announced following the Vice-Chancellor’s letter addressing students over the “efforts” taken by his office and the administration after the October 18 sexual assault incident.

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As the cops tried to foil the protest, the students refused to budge and a clash occurred between the protesters and the cops, following which students were dragged away.

When a few students tried to record the scene, they were prevented from doing so as their phones were taken away.

Videos of the police action on students surfaced on social media where students were heard screaming for justice.

The students shouted slogans of ‘EFLU admin down, down’ and ‘sharam karo’ as the police attempted to disperse the protestors.

In another video, the girls were seen holding firmly to a gate on the varsity campus, while lady constables tried hard to pull them away.

The students also freed their fellow mates as police officers attempted to drag them away.

VC’s letter led to hunger strike

The fresh protest comes following a letter from the Vice-Chancellor, Prof E Suresh Kumar on November 3, addressing students over the “efforts” taken by his office and the administration after the October 18 sexual assault incident.

Stating that they would boycott classes from Monday, the students expressed disappointment over the letter calling it an attempt to evade accountability.

The V-C in his letter, called out the students to protect the university’s image as a premier institution, claiming that a few dissident outsiders are waiting for an opportunity to create disturbance in the university.

However, the students opined that the letter was yet another illustration of the administration’s continuing apathy as it addresses none of the students’ concerns.

“We are profoundly shocked by the several misleading statements made in the V-C’s letter and appalled that this outrageous letter is the sole extent of the administrative response to our legitimate concerns. In this context, we restate our demands,” a statement released by the students said.

EFLU protests so far

On October 16, about 300 students held a protest for over 24 hours, demanding the reconstitution of the university’s Sensitisation, Prevention and Redressal of Sexual Harassment (SPARSH) committee.

Students said that the previous SPARSH committee, which was constituted under an EFLU ordinance based on the Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013, had been defunct since June 2023.

Just a day after the protest, a female student was sexually assaulted on the night of October 18 at around 10 pm, which led to further protests against the administration by students the following night, October 19.

The police have booked 11 students of the university, based on the proctor’s complaint, after the protests on October 19 over the administration’s disregard for the students’ issues, as they demand that the victim’s name be released, rather than conducting a thorough probe into the matter.

However, EFLU has maintained that an investigation is underway, despite, the V-C or the proctor failing to address the students regarding the progress of the investigation.