A Shiva lingam and Nandi structure located near the garden outside the main gate of the University of Hyderabad was noticed for the first time on Monday, leading to the eruption of a new row. The incident comes just a day after two Buddhist monks were denied entry into the campus.
A section of students is alleging that the discovery of the structure has given credence to the 'Brahmanical hegemony' on campus.
The controversy has surfaced days after university authorities sought the dismantling of unauthorised structures and tents on campus, a move that was seen by many as a threat to the Velivada or Dalit ghetto, where research scholar Rohith Vemula spent his last days, reported The Times of India.
"We were in for a rude shock as soon as we saw the religious structure installed right outside the main gate. We were not aware of any such structure before. While the university is targeting the Rohith stupa and the Velivada, this structure goes to shows what's happening on campus," TOI quoted Arpita Jaya, a key member of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, who has been with the university for nearly a decade.
Though the constitution states that all government institutions must remain secular, the discovery of the structure created a stir among students. The structure appears to be prima facie outside the university, hardly 200 metres from the main gate but lies in the garden maintained by the varsity.
"There has been a lot of renovation work going on inside and outside the university premises for some time now. The structure seems to be a recent phenomenon as I have been in the university since 2009 and I don't remember seeing any such 'Shivling and Nandi' outside the campus gate till now," said Sripathi Ramadu, spokesperson of SC/ST Teachers' Forum on campus, as reported by TOI.
According to TOI, even the university administration appeared to be baffled over the religious structure. "Being a public functionary, we have to uphold the Constitution. So when the Preamble states that the country is secular, nothing related to religion should take place on the campus. Even a photograph of God is not allowed. In personal residences, people are allowed to follow their own religion. I will enquire about this structure and who built it and will take a call accordingly," said M Sudhakar, registrar of UoH.