The appointment of an academician – who allegedly has links with the ABVP, BJP and RSS – to the Executive Council of University of Hyderabad has turned into a controversy with student unions alleging what they term the saffronisation of the Executive Council. The appointment of Dr O Srinivas Reddy was made by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 8 in his capacity as the Visitor of the University of Hyderabad.
Dr Reddy is the chairman of Jagruti Group of Institutions which include half a dozen engineering and science colleges. He is also an active member of sports associations in Hyderabad including chess, badminton and karate. Dr Reddy was president of ABVP of the Greater Hyderabad Unit from 1990 to 1991. He is also the chairman of Saraswathi Vidya Nilayam at Suryapet which is run on RSS principles. He also serves as a member of the AP Consumers Association, and an advisor to the Osmania University Old Students Association.
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The appointment of Dr Reddy, at a time when the protest over the suicide of Rohith Vemula continues at the University of Hyderabad, has angered a section of the students. “The BJP at (the) Centre is playing games with students’ lives. What does it mean to appoint a person with political leanings to the executive council?” a member of the Students JAC for Social Justice said.
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“We do not want politicians in our committees and constituted bodies. This kind of appointments curb academic freedom,” a statement said, condemning the appointment.
After Dalit scholar Vemula committed suicide on January 17, the Students JAC has been demanding the resignation of vice-chancellor Prof P Appa Rao accusing him of taking action against five students including Rohith at the behest of the Union Human Resource and Development Ministry. The JAC is also accusing the Centre of trying to promote right wing sympathisers in the university.