Hyderabad: University of Hyderabad VC Prof Appa Rao Podile, who went on leave at the height of an agitation over the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula, on Tuesday resumed charge amid protests from a section of students, who ransacked his official residence leading to tension on the campus.

Raising slogans against the vice chancellor, agitating students barged into his residence (VC’s lodge), broke window panes, smashed doors and television among other items, protesting against his resumption of duty.

Prof Podile, who is in the eye of a storm over Vemula’s suicide on 17 January, had proceeded on leave on 24 January as the agitating students demanded his resignation and held vigorous protests seeking “justice" for Vemula.

A battery of high-profile leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal had visited Hyderabad Central University (HCU) at the height of protests.

Based on a complaint by a section of students, Cyberabad police had registered a case against union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Podile and three others in connection with the suicide. Podile was scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday morning but it was cancelled following the violence.

One of the protesting students said, “Our primary demand is that the VC should not come...we lost Rohith Vemula. He (Podile) is one of the culprits. Its almost over two months since the incident but no action has been initiated."

The protesting students demanded that the VC be immediately arrested. A large number of police personnel were deployed near the vice chancellor’s lodge as tension prevailed on the campus.

D Prashant, one of the five suspended students, said the VC had no moral right to resume duties and conduct an executive committee meeting as a case with regard to Vemula’s suicide was still pending against him.

“At the behest of (union minister) Venkaiah Naidu, he (VC) came to UoH (University of Hyderabad, also called HCU). At the behest of central government, he occupied the VC seat despite the fact that the whole University resisted against it," he said.

“We are appealing to the police to arrest him (VC) first as he has not got any interim relief from the high court on his petition (in the suicide case)," Prashant said. He claimed some of the ABVP members vandalised the VC’s residence to tarnish the image of the agitating student community and divert the whole issue.

Some members belonging to ABVP later gathered at the VC lodge to prevent the protesters from entering the house.

Speaking to reporters, Podile said, “I was having a meeting with some deans and members of the executive committee on how to handle the things in the university. Meanwhile, a group of students came, banged the doors, ransacked the office and resorted to violence of a magnitude which we have never seen in the university." “This is a black day for the University of Hyderabad," he said. Our internal mechanisms will address if the students have some issues. Unfortunately, these group of students have broken everything. They have not given any representation... they have not even asked to talk. They just banged and broke the doors, Podile said.

“If any group of students can dictate who should be the vice chancellor, this is going to be a national problem not just in University of Hyderabad. Tomorrow, any hundred or fifty students can say this particular vice chancellor should be there. “The students did not resort to a dialogue. They should have given me a representation. Without telling anything ransacking the office to this magnitude is uncalled for and not expected from students of University of Hyderabad. All the teachers feel that this is unbecoming of the students," he said.

Podile said he will seek security from local police following the “vandalism". “The matter is in the court. Judicial Commission is there (probing Vemula suicide incident). Let the report come. Why are they ransacking the office? This we cannot tolerate. We are going to seek the help of local police," he told reporters.

When asked about the proposed visit of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar to HCU tomorrow, the VC said, “I have not given any permission for the meeting. There was no letter (requesting permission for meeting) from anyone on this. I will have to discuss with police and my colleagues then only I can comment."

He advised media not to sensationalise the issue and to verify facts before reporting. “Media should collect facts and then report. They should not look for sensation. They talk to two or three students and put out banner stories. That is not the way to project the university and damage the reputation of the university and we are worried about it," he added.

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