Osmania University,the centre of Telangana movement,was on the boil on Monday after Sunday nights clashes between students belonging to different castes over a beef festival held on Sunday evening.
A second-year Arts student,T Rama Rao,was stabbed on Monday for making a reportedly inflammatory speech against the beef festival organised by students of a particular caste who are pressing for beef to be included in the universitys hostel menu.
As the university did not take their views seriously,a section of students decided to organise a beef festival. Several food stalls were set up in the campus to cook and serve beef to those who attended. The festival was organised by different factions belonging to the Telangana Students Association,Progressive Democratic Student Union,Student Federation of India and students from English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU). EFLU hostel students had last year started a protest demanding beef be included in the hostel menu.
The opposition was led by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). On the face of it though organising the beef festival appears to be an act of defiance,it hints at a power struggle thats going on among student wings in the university ever since the Telangana agitation started. Socially and economically backward sections have been accusing the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS),Telangana Joint Action Committee,ABVP and National Students Union of India of excluding or sidelining the weaker sections from the Telangana movement.
Some Dalit organisations recently protested that TRS calls for shutdowns whenever an upper caste student commits suicide over Telangana but keeps mum when SC or BC students do the same.
While the festival ended peacefully amid heavy police cordon,clashes broke out late in the night when students led by ABVP attacked those who had organised the festival.
Beef has always been part of the Telangana cuisine among some communities and castes. At Osmania,upper caste student leaders have ensured that beef is not included in the menu. It is domination of the upper classes over the lower classes. This is food fascism, Uday Kumar,a student leader said.
While the number of students who attended the festival was less than 250,there was widespread opposition to it. Most students who are talking of beef here do not eat it in their homes. This is a gimmick to gain the upper hand in campus politics by creating a wedge between different castes, Vinay K,a Dalit student leader,who did not support the festival said.
The ABVP,which opposed the festival,staged protests and ensured that the varsity was shutdown on Monday. At least 1,000 students,led by ABVP OU Zonal In-charge T Ramakrishna,blockaded the vice-chancellors office on Monday and submitted a memorandum to V-C S Satyanarayana. The ABVP has also demanded that action be initiated against the three professors who attended the beef festival.