A dilapidated structure converted into a Ram Mandir inside the UoH campus
Hyderabad: In reaction to the secular campus of the University of Hyderabad, a small dilapidated structure inside the university has been converted into a Ram mandir as part of the Ram Navami celebrations on April 10.
Apparently, a small structure, located in front of the university’s F men’s hostel, has been turned into a temple. This building is generally used by non-teaching staff to celebrate local holidays. On Sunday, the rocks at the site of the structure were painted orange, a number of orange-colored flags were hoisted over the structure, and certain rituals/poop was realized. Right-wing organizations on campus, particularly the Akhil Bharathiya Vidhya Parishad, are believed to be behind this.
Meanwhile, at Guru Baksh Maidan Hall, there were Ram Navami celebrations in which the vice-chancellor of the university is also known to have taken part. Surprisingly, at the same time, some students also commented on how difficult it was to get permission to celebrate other holidays like Christmas or Ramzaan inside the campus.
Gopi Swamy, General Secretary of the Students’ Union and President of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA), said that there were about 35 to 40 people gathered for the pooja and that some people, he doubted , came from off campus. This is a clear and obvious attempt to saffronize college campuses, he says. “Right now, when the campus has just opened (after the pandemic) and new students from different parts of the country, especially without any kind of ideology, are coming to the university, in this way they are trying to attract these students and impose their ideology on them. Lately, examples of saffronization on campus have multiplied. In the end, the idea of a campus in itself is lost.
Gopi also points out the irony of the whole incident in parallel with the hijab controversy in schools and colleges in Karnataka. “In the High Court ruling on the Hijab issue, it was asked to keep religion off campuses, so how are such celebrations allowed and how are weekly shakhas held in university spaces? ” Gopi asks.
Gopi also fears that it is no longer just a small rock or structure, but may expand into various similar activities with immense consequences in the future. He also adds that the campus is no longer a free space, but rather a threatening space where anyone who raises their voice against the government, the administration or the majority is arrested.
Abhishek Nandan, president of the Students’ Union, said after the incident, he urged the VC to ask not to undertake such activities in the future. He also advised that there was no tension on campus following the incident.
However, Namratha Singh, President of ABVP UoH, said the temple was already there and the ABVP and other right wing members only cleaned up the place and renovated the temple. “It was already a temple but no one was taking care of it. So some students went and cleaned up the place and renovated the morthi (stone idol) there. At UoH, all religious holidays are celebrated. So why are you only talking about Ram Navami? What about Ifthar parties?” she asks.
In a similar incident at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi on Sunday, a fight broke out between ABVP students and left-front students when ABVP allegedly tried to prevent the cooking of non-vegetarian food at the university’s Kaveri hostels. Although vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is provided in the mess on Sundays, the ABVP alleged that this would disrupt Ram Navami celebrations. Many students were injured in the violence that followed the fight.
NewsMeter tried to contact the university spokesperson but got no response. The copy will be updated once we hear from him.