The Telangana police cracked down on students who planned a beef festival on the Osmania University campus on Thursday. Heavy deployment of security forces, preventive arrests on the campus hostels and barricading all routes to the university helped to foil the organisation of festival on a large scale. All leaders, including two Congress Chief Ministers, invited to the festival, were advised to stay away. However, a small section of students from the New Research Scholars Hostel on the campus cooked beef items and consumed them in the dining hall. As they posted the photos of some students eating beef on social media, a rival section of students tried to attack them, sparking off tension on the campus. The police arrested about 100 students in different incidents and let them off by evening.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), who was in Delhi throughout the day, monitored the situation and instructed the cops not to allow anyone host the beef and pork festivals on the campus as the university was not meant for non-academic activities.
However, those who had planned to host the pork festival backed off in the last minute as a Hyderabad civil court denied permission to both the beef and pork festivals on Tuesday. Representatives of the Democratic Cultural Front (DCF), the organiser of the beef festival, knocked on the doors of the Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday seeking permission for the event. However, the court bench headed by Chief Justice Dilip B. Bhosale refused to stay the orders of the civil court and held that the university premises should not be misused to conduct food festivals.
Armed with the court orders, the state government has resorted to preventive arrests and cordoned off the entire campus since Wednesday night.
Sources in the state home department told The Sunday Guardian that the Ministry of Home Affairs has closely monitored the situation arising out of rival student groups threatening to hold beef and pork festivals on Thursday, which was the International Human Rights Day.
Police also arrested BJP MLA from Ghosha Mahal in the city as he proceeded to perform a “Gau Puja” and storm the university to prevent the beef festival. Hundreds of Bajarang Dal, Shiv Sena and ABVP activists were arrested as they pelted stones and damaged RTC buses at several places in the city, protesting the MLA’s arrest.
DCF convener, Prof P.L. Visweshwar Rao, who was arrested by the police, criticised the TRS government’s stand not to allow a beef festival in the university.
OU registrar, Prof A. Suresh Kumar told this newspaper that the students who posted their photos of eating beef items would be treated as violating the court orders and disciplinary action would be initiated against them.
The decisive move of the TRS government not to allow the beef festival is in contrast to a passive stand taken by the Congress government towards a similar beef festival in 2012. When rival groups went ahead with their plans, the then CM ,Kiran Reddy ordered the police to protect the organisers of the event. However, eight students sustained severe injuries in clashes that ensued.