The Hyderabad police have jailed 27 students and two faculty members of Hyderabad University till Monday after a delay in producing them before a magistrate meant that their bail pleas could not be heard.
The students and faculty had been arrested on Tuesday and charged under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, after they allegedly vandalised the residence of vice chancellor Appa Rao Podile the day he returned to the university to take up his duties.
Appa Rao had been sent on leave after protests on campus for his role in the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in January. Vemula and five other Dalit students had been suspended by the university.
The two faculty members arrested were Prof Konda Yesu Ratnam, 53, a Dalit teacher of political science and founder of the Ambedkar Studies Centre at the university, and Tathagata Sengupta, 31, an assistant professor in Mathematics.
Human rights lawyers J Bhim Rao, Vasudha Nagaraj, C Damodar Reddy, and B Raghunath filed the bail petition was filed on behalf of the students and teachers. The public prosecutor opposed bail for the students. The court posted the matter to Monday.
"We do not know why and how Prof Ratnam was detained," said S Munna, a student leader. "All our pleas to the police were in vain. They booked him for vandalism just on hearsay, even though he had neither said a word nor done anything.he is also diabetic, and we are very worried for him."
The students alleged that Prof Ratnam was picked up by the police because he is opposed to Appa Rao. Sengupta, secretary of the Teachers' Association, is also said to be strongly opposed to Appa Rao.
V Kumar of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, which is protesting Vemula's death, said: "Police officials have not disclosed information about them (the professors) since they were detained. Family members, professors and students have been running from pillar to post since Tuesday and are yet to meet or speak with a single person detained."
The university's complaint read: ".about 10 students.came to the lodge, jumped over the main gate, broke open the man door windows/door glass panes and entered the premises. They.ransacked the VC's lodge, damaged the TV, furniture, computers and laptops."
The complaint names students Munna, Ramjee, Vijay Kumar, Lingam, Sanjay, Seshaiah, Venkatesh Chauhan, Kesaban Roy Choudary and Dontha Prashanth.
The JAC said in a statement issued on Thursday, that besides these nine students, the FIR mentions "other students of UoH". This, the JAC stated, means "anyone can be picked up by the police and slapped with false charges. We strongly condemn the misuse of state apparatus to crush voices of the students. The use of police force and unnecessary detention and slapping of false cases against the faculty and students has started to become a pattern. We witnessed the same in FTII, JNU and many other campuses."