Osmania University ‘Refuses to Permit’ Rahul Gandhi Visit, Campus Simmers

It is one of India’s oldest universities and has a rich history of student politics going back decades. But Osmania University (OU) has reportedly refused to approve former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the campus on May 7 for a “non-political” event.

Though the university has not intimated its decision to the organisers in writing, the OU Executive Council’s reported refusal on Saturday has triggered a political maelstrom, with the Congress accusing the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led state government of leaning on the institution to stop Gandhi’s visit. Some students moved the Telangana High Court the same day, urging it to direct the university to allow Gandhi’s visit.

Congress leaders on Sunday said they applied for permission for the event on April 23, stating that the visit would be “non-political” in nature. An administration official pointed out that since 2017 the Executive Council had adopted a resolution almost every year barring non-academic activities, including political meetings, on campus.
The official said the first such resolution was adopted in June 2017, a year after the High Court directed the state government to not allow political and public meetings on the university’s premises. The court’s ruling was based on a petition by some students complaining of constant disturbance because of political activities.

“A circular (in 2017) stated OU was established for the purpose of imparting higher education and informed the teachers and students that non-academic activities such as political meetings will not be permitted on the campus. A resolution to this effect was also passed by the OU Executive Council,” the university official said but refused to confirm if permission had been declined for the event Gandhi was scheduled to attend. Other university officials said a political leader’s visit to the campus cannot be a non-political programme.

The university’s reported decision has led to protests on campus. While several Youth Congress leaders and supporters staged a demonstration at the OU Arts College on Saturday, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and students’ associations affiliated with the TRS organised counter protests. Manavta Roy of the Telangana Nirudyog Vidyarthi Joint Action Committee (JAC) said the administration had not yet informed students of its decision in writing. “We are expecting the administration to say something on Monday,” he added.

The Congress MLA from Sangareddy constituency in Medak district, Jagga Reddy, accused the state government of pressuring OU to stop Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Osmania. “OU has always been known for student movements, including the Telangana agitation. We clarified that our leader’s visit is non-political but they made up their mind about not allowing it,’’ he told The Indian Express.

Former Rajya Sabha MP V Hanumantha Rao also criticised the university and the state government. Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address a public meeting in Hanamkonda near Warangal on May 6 and visit Karimnagar.

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