Following the students’ union’s objections to a ‘Ram temple’ that sprang up inside the University of Hyderabad campus on the occasion of Ram Navami, the varsity administration has set up a committee to inquire into the allegations.
Though the students’ union alleged that it was the activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who painted the rock structure and installed photos of Lord Ram and flags, the varsity registrar, in a statement, denied the allegations of the involvement of any student organisations.
“It is a small structure that has existed since the inception (of the university). Photos of some Hindu deities were there too. On the day of Ram Navami, one or two students went there and cleaned the place, painted it in saffron colour and installed saffron flags. They had not taken our permission. So a committee has been set up to inquire into the matter. Action will be taken as per its recommendations,” registrar Devesh Nigam said.
Nigam said the university has identified the students involved in this and they were not associated with any organisations.
“Our university has a policy not to allow any permanent religious structure on the campus. But we allow the celebration of religious functions. That day, we allowed a group of students to celebrate Ram Navami in Guru Baksh Singh Maidan. That celebration was peaceful,” Nigam said.
Earlier, students’ union president Abhishek Nandan and general secretary Gopi Swami had raised apprehensions against the ABVP’s alleged attempts to “saffronise” the campus and provoke the students from other faiths. The ABVP, however, distanced itself from the controversial structure though it held the usual Ram Navami celebrations.
The students’ union maintained that any student group was free to celebrate their faiths on campus with permission from the varsity administration but installing permanent structures of worship would lead to tension between groups that could escalate and disturb the peace on campus. “We have a politically vibrant and democratic space on campus where everyone should be made to feel safe,” Gopi Swami, general secretary of the students’ union said.