Family members of 53-year-old Prof Konda Yesu Ratnam and Assistant Professor Tathagata Sengupta had no information about their whereabouts for over 24 hours after the HCU faculty members were picked up by police from the campus Tuesday. They were detained, and later arrested, after protests by a section of students opposed to V-C Prof P Appa Rao’s return to work got violent.
According to family members of the two, neither HCU administration officials nor police gave them any information on the first day. Prof Ratnam’s wife Jaya Ratnam alleged, “As students and faculty members were looking for the two at police stations, police shifted them from one police station to another to mislead them.”
Ratnam, 53, an associate professor of Political Science, and Sengupta, 31, of the Mathematics Department, have have been booked under Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Several faculty members who were present near the V-C’s Lodge on the campus Tuesday claimed that Ratnam and Sengupta were trying to calm tempers and were whisked away for questioning by police, who were allegedly assaulting students and some teachers, including women.
“A few people saw police take them away, but they were unaware which police station they were taken to,” a faculty member said on Saturday. “In fact, most of us only guessed that the two must be in police custody when they failed to return even after 11 pm.”
Jaya Ratnam said she learnt Wednesday morning that her husband had been arrested and booked for vandalism. She told The Sunday Express, “I want to know what a 53-year-old man damaged at the V-C’s office. On what basis was he arrested? Was he arrested because he opposes the V-C?” She emphasised that Prof Ratnam suffers from high blood pressure and is on medication and added that she met him for a few minutes at Cherlapally Jail Friday.
Sengupta’s sister Shanti and father Kalyan Sengupta met him at the jail Saturday. Sengupta is joint-secretary of the Teachers’ Association. His wife Arpita is PhD scholar at HCU and a member of the Joint Action Committee which is spearheading protests seeking justice for Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula.