BeyondHeadlines News Desk
The students of English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, completed a week of their struggle to achieve justice for Mudasir Kamran, who committed suicide on the night of 2nd March 2013. In this report, we the students participating in the protest, will attempt to lay out the circumstances that led to Mudasir’s death and the following responses of the administration, the teachers, the students, the media and the police.
Mudasir’s suicide takes up greater significance in the light of it being the fourth death in the five-year old University. To add to this, there have been multiple suicide attempts by students of the university, following casteist oppression within the German Department. Another student, Munavath Sriramulu, an Adivasi student, had gone on a hunger strike as well as filed a case with the Osmania University Police Station against the casteist attitude of the HOD of the German Department, Prof. Meenakshi Reddy. He was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of a private hospital following the distress caused by the death of Mudasir, his friend. We take into consideration the high tally of deaths in this campus and identify that these are not individual cases, but rather a symptom of a deep structural malignancy.
In this section, the report compiles a witness testimony of Satish Nainala who was closely involved in the events of the night that Mudasir was arrested.
Vasim had put in a number of complaints with the Proctor over a period about the arguments and fights between Mudasir and himself. Vasim had requested the Proctor on several occasions to intervene and resolve the issue. The University administration claims that a number of show-cause notices were issued, but nothing else in the form of a systematic, productive and proactive intervention was made to help Mudasir and Vasim address their issues. Counseling was not ensured, neither was a community of sensitive friends and students organized to help Mudasir.
On the night of the incident, Mudasir and Vasim’s fight got out of hand, and Vasim complained to the proctor. Vasim later told Satish that he went to the proctor believing that he was the head of law and order on campus and would resolve the issue within campus. Mudasir was brought to the proctor’s house where he got in to a verbal altercation with the proctor, who retorted by calling him mentally ill and a rascal. Mudasir protested such name-calling stating that it hurt his self-esteem.
The proctor responded with a hurt ego and pride and said, “How can you talk to me like this? I’m the head of law and order in the university”. The proctor took this as a personal offence and he took Vasim to the Osmania University Police Station and asked the inspector to take Mudasir in.
On hearing this, some students called up the Police Station and enquired about the issue. They were told Mudasir had been taken in under the directions of Proctor Harish Vijra. The students asked Prof. Veda Sharan to intervene. They were also concerned that Mudasir was a Kashmiri student and it would be detrimental to his self-esteem.
Meanwhile, Prof. Harish Vijra and Prof. Maya Pandit were crossing Basheer Men’s Hostel on their way back from the Police Station. The students asked them why they let police come in and take Mudasir. Prof. Pandit tried to explain that he had health problems. Upon asking Prof. Pandit as to why he was taken to the Police Station if the trouble was that of mental ailment, Prof. Vijra came in between as if to put an end to the conversation. The students told Prof. Vijra that the police had informed them that it was Prof. Vijra who had instructed them to take Mudasir to the Station and enquired his reason for doing so. He replied, to quote, “He is a rascal and mentally disordered. He deserves to be in the police station”. The students asked him if Mudasir was his son and was mentally disordered, whether he still would take him to a hospital or a Police Station. Prof. Vijra’s response was that Mudassir is not his son and that he is a rascal. When the students started retorting, Prof. Vijra left the place.
The students maintain that Mudasir was an introvert who didn’t go out much. Hence they thought he might be hurt with what had happened. They therefore decided to go to the Police Station and bring him back hoping that the issue could be sorted out within the University.
The students took the help of the Warden of the Basheer Hostel, Prof. Veda Sharan, and went to the Police Station. Mudasir was sitting at the reception of the Police Station, and the inspector was talking to him. After seeing the students, Mudasir started crying. He hugged Sandeep Patil, who was very close to him, and asked “Mein pagal hon okya? Vijra mereko aisa kyun bol raha hain? (I am mad or what? Why is Vijra talking to me like this?) He cried for almost three hours. The students consoled both of them and were at the station for the next 15minutes. Veda Sharan wrote a letter stating that this was an issue internal to the University, and with proper procedures, this can be sorted at the university level. The students too signed the letter and stated that ‘Students will fight today and unite tomorrow’.
Vasim went back to the hostel, and the students took Mudasir to the OU tea stall. They consoled Mudasir for almost three hours. Mudasir was crying throughout. After the students got back to EFLU, they thought it prudent to keep Mudasir with them since people were staring at him and talking about him. This was done so that Mudasir could sleep peacefully. Mudasir slept in Sandeep Patil’s room, C-13, in bed. Sandeep Patil did not sleep the entire night. The students also stationed two security guards outside his door. Thus, the students took a proactive step in ensuring
Mudasir’s safety, which the administration did not care to. Krishna, another student, went frequently to Sandeep Patil’s room and peeped through the window to make sure that Mudasir was sleeping. Sandeep Patil woke Mudasir up in the morning, so that the two of them could go for breakfast. After breakfast, Krishna went to check on Mudasir and saw him going for a bath. Since then, some or the other student checked on him every hour and confirmed that Mudasir was safe on campus. The students made sure that Mudasir had lunch. Then at about 2.40 pm, one of the students, Narasimha Doka, called him. Mudasir said he is coming back from namaz and that he would meet Doka later. The students thought that since he had gone to mosque, Mudasir was going back to his routine. Around 3 PM, the students called Doka to inform Mudasir that the latter had left his cough syrup in Room No. D-5. Mudasir said he is doing fine.
The students had kept the administration aware of the situation since morning and had stressed the need to get counseling services for Mudasir, but they never paid any heed. At dinner time, Krishna wanted to make sure that Mudasir had dinner. He checked with the person who deals with the mess cards. Krishna was informed that Mudasir had not come for dinner yet. Worried, Krishna went to Mudasir’s room. He knocked on the door, but there was no response and the door was locked from inside. Krishna peeped in through the window and saw Mudassir hanging by a rope.
Students broke in, and with the help of security guards, rushed him to Durgabhai Deshmukh Hospital where he was pronounced DOA.
BACKGROUND TO THE STATED CAUSE OF DEATH:
Vasim and Mudasir were friends, batchmates at the Department of ELE, and roommates. They had a fallout when Vasim started to feel suffocated by Mudasir’s affections and possessiveness. They had an altercation which resulted in Mudasir hitting Vasim. At this point, Vasim complained to the Provost of the Basheer Hostel and he was then shifted to a different room and was given membership of the Ladies’ Hostel Mess. Mudasir continued to seek Vasim’s company, like before when they used to be together all the time. He would follow Vasim around the campus and pleaded to Vasim to return to the room.
Mudasir expressed his love and affection for Vasim. However, the latter wanted to distance himself from Mudasir’s possessiveness. According to Vasim, Mudasir never appreciated Vasim’s interaction with other friends. They had altercations a number of times. On one occasion, Vasim was seen hitting Mudasir in front of the International Hostel. Vasim clarified that he felt provoked and could not but hit Mudasir.
Vasim got in touch with students he thought might be able to help. He wanted to file a complaint with the Proctor, but was advised against it as the intervening students felt that this would lead to disciplinary action (suspension or rustication) which would not resolve Vasim’s or Mudasir’s issues and would aggravate the problem.
The intervening students accompanied Vasim to a meeting with the Proctor and Prof. Maya Pandit on 28.01.2013. During the meeting, Prof. Maya Pandit, in stark contrast to Prof. Harish Vijra, was sensitive to Mudasir’s situation. She wanted to speak to Mudasir and take proactive steps like counseling, calling Mudasir’s parents, and providing support in the form of creating a community of friends. Prof. Vijra, on the other hand, said that Vasim should continue filing complaints and that a Committee would be instated and if Mudasir persisted, the Committee would take disciplinary action against him.
In the subsequent days, Vasim and Mudasir had alternating periods of relief and conflict. A Committee was set up by the administration which issued Mudasir with show-cause notices. Prof. Patil, the research supervisor of Mudasir Kamran, attempted to intervene at a personal level a number of times. No attempt was however made by the administration to provide empathetic measures like counseling or to contact Mudasir’s parents to alert them to the situation.
The following is a day-by-day report of the protest which followed Mudasir Kamran’s suicide. The protest was led by the following student organisations:
- Telanagana Students’ Association (TSA)
- Students’ Islamic Organization (SIO)
- Dalit Adivasi Bahujan Minority Students’ association (DABMSA)
- Progressive Democratic Students’ Union (PDSU)
- Muslim Students’ Federation (MSF)
- Telanagana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV)
- Bahujan Students’ Union (BSU)
The day-by-day account follows:
On being pronounced DOA by doctors at the Durgabhai Deshmukh Hospital, Mudasir’s body was brought back to the campus by 10:15 PM. Hundreds of students peacefully gathered to mourn the deceased. Though there were no instances of violence, a large number of fully-geared police personnel were deployed on campus. The students demanded that the Vice-Chancellor immediately address the students and recognize that the Proctor was directly responsible for Mudasir’s suicide.
The Vice-Chancellor did not respond. Instead, the Registrar arrived, to whom the students presented the initial set of demands:
1) The University file a criminal case at the Osmania University Police Station against Proctor Harish Vijra for abetting suicide.
2) Termination of Prof. Harish Vijra from all academic and administrative positions in the university.
3) A compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs to be immediately granted to the family of the deceased.
4) To provide employment to one member of the family of the deceased.
5) Free education be made available to one member of the family of the deceased.
The students refused to hand the body over to the police until the demands were met.
Munavath Sriramulu, an Adivasi student at the German Department and a close friend of Mudasir’s who had been fighting the administration to take action against the discriminatory practices of Prof. Meenakshi Reddy (HOD, German Department), was so distressed by the incident that he collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. He continues to be in critical condition in Intensive Care in a private hospital till date.
In the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar failed to respond to the above-mentioned demands, and towards early morning the police took the body for post-mortem to Gandhi Hospital. When students protested against the presence of police on campus, the Vice-Chancellor gave directions to the Registrar over the phone that it was a law and order situation and the police was in full right to take care of any untoward incidents. Police personnel continued to camp within premises.
Mudasir’s relatives arrived at Gandhi Hospital, where autopsy was conducted. The autopsy report released by the police on 6th March claims that no other visible signs of injury apart from a 4×2 inch abrasion on the right shoulder were present.
Students continued to accompany Mudasir’s body at the hospital. During the day, the Vice-Chancellor arrived at the hospital and the protesting students presented the demands to her. She was accompanied by the DCP and, in the presence of students, she reiterated that the police could take care of the law and order situation on campus and students could be arrested in case of unrest. The report would like to stress that there was no such signs of violence or unrest on campus. There was only a peaceful candlelight rally organized by student bodies in the evening.
The rally was attended by hundreds of mourning students and taken across campus. The rally assembled in front of Proctor Vijra’s house and protested. Students were addressed and urged to join a protest against the administration’s negligence in fulfilling the students’ demands. A two-day bandh was announced.
In spite of the peaceful nature of the rally, the police remained vigilant; a disturbing presence for mourning students.
A police case was filed against Prof. Harish Vijra by the protestors, and an FIR lodged.
A large number of protesting students assembled in front of the Administration Building at 10 AM in the morning. When the students took out a rally, they were surprised to find that the administration had organized a condolence meeting without adequately informing the students. Only a handful of students, teachers and non-teaching staff were present. The venue was heavily guarded by police personnel. The students were not aware of the violence that the Vice-Chancellor was anticipating. But they soon realized that the police was asked to intervene to keep a check on the protesting students. The condolence meeting was cancelled by the administration once the students started expressing their discontent in the form of slogans.
The administration attempted to pacify and negotiate with the students; but the students refused to engage in any dialogue until the last policeman was asked to leave the campus. During the course of the day, the Dean of Students’
Welfare, Dr. Bhangya Bhukhya, claimed that they had not asked the police to occupy campus and that the police was there on their own volition due to the recent blasts that had taken place in Hyderabad. The report would like to assert that between the time of the bomb blast and the suicide, the police had not stepped inside campus.
Members of the administration, including the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar, stepped out to address the protesters, but since police continued to remain on campus, dialogue could not be initiated.
The protestors were surprised to hear that the administration had lost the list of demands submitted by them.
Towards the end of the day, Prof. Maya Pandit, Dr. Satish Poduval, Dr. Sudhakar and Dr. Surendar Negi stepped out to announce that they have asked the police to leave the campus, and on the request of the students also issued a written order that, as per the university ordinance, the police would not enter the campus until or unless summoned by the Vice-Chancellor.
Post this development, the Vice-Chancellor returned to address the students. A copy of the demands had earlier been submitted to the Registrar. The VC claimed that the law would take to its own course and she would not be able to address any of the demands that the students had put forth, not even the suspension of the Proctor, which for the students was a fundamental requirement, in keeping with the moral order of the context.
In response, the VC said she would institute a fact-finding committee which would look into the immediate circumstances of the suicide. The students noticed that the fact-finding committee was undemocratic in nature, in not having included a single representation from the student community and in including members of the teaching faculty who were directly invested in Mudasir’s problems (Prof. Patil, his supervisor, who had attempted to counsel both Mudasir and Vasim). The students rejected the fact-finding committee on the basis that it was undemocratic and that the immediate suspension of Proctor Vijra would have to be foremost in the course of action.
Throughout the day, a large number of media personnel (photographer and reporters) were at the site of protest, interviewing both students and administrative staff. We soon found that one photographer disguised as a media person had been appointed by Prof. John Varghese to document the proceedings of the protest. All the protesters had been photographed. The VC later, on March 7, confirmed that it was under the orders of the Government of India that she had to record all developments of the protest to be submitted in the interests of security.
The students were concerned that this would lead to a profiling and intimidation of the protesters. The photographer was forced to hand over the memory card to the students.
The students were given the impression that the VC was not present in the office. The students were later told on March 6th that she had remained inside office the entire day while they waited for her to address them.
Several civil and human rights organizations from all over the state addressed the students and initiated independent fact-finding programmes with regard to the on-going events in the university. APCLC, HRF, Civil Liberties Committee, SIO, Telangana Resource Centre and Telangana Praja Front, KNPS, BC Mahajana Samithi, PKM and
HRLN expressed their solidarity with the EFLU students’ agitation and reported that the university administration was delivering contradictory statements regarding the events in concern. When members from APCLC attempted to interview the administration, they were told that this was an internal affair and they should not interfere in it.
Soon, the protesting students encountered speculations from different members of the administration that pointed towards Mudasir’s sexuality as the possible cause of his violent behaviour. The protestors soon realized that it was the homophobic attitude of the administration that led to the kind of prejudice and criminalization of Mudasir, the reason behind him being sent to the police.
An anonymous pamphlet was clandestinely circulated within the Administration Building which was decidedly casteist, mocking and deriding specific Dalit students and teachers. The students strongly condemned the pamphlets which were evidently circulated to malign the protesting students.
Members of the administration were also present at the press conference held by the police regarding the death of Mudasir.
Towards the end of the day, a rally was taken out and effigy of the Vice-Chancellor was burnt outside the campus, outside the premises of the University, in front of the Osmania University Police Station.
Once the students returned, members of the Teachers’ Assocication including Dr. Negi, Dr. T. Nageshwara Rao, Dr. Tariq and Dr. Jai Singh stepped out to negotiate with the protestors. They asked the students to stop the protest citing that it was inciting unrest in Kashmir. The report would like to clarify at this point that there has been a consistent media blackout in Hyderabad and outside of Hyderabad leading to a number of speculations in the media (Mudasir’s association with Afzal Guru, Mudasir as a potential terrorist, Mudasir as homosexual, Mudasir as mentally ill), none of which were stated in the press releases made by the protesting students.
The teachers offered two students membership to the fact-finding. The students demanded equal representation which was not agreed to by the Teachers’ Association. The students refused to support the fact-finding committee as long as Prof. Vijra continued to hold a position of power. The students extended the bandh by two more days expecting a resolution.
The UGC Task Force for Gender Sensitization held an open forum, inviting suggestions from students on how to make the campus safer and more accessible to women. At the end of the forum, representatives of the protest presented their case to the committee.
The students continued through the day. Delegations from the administration met the students to negotiate. The proposal to frame a fact-finding committee including four student representatives of the administration’s choice was put forward. However, since the proctor still remained in power, dialogue could not be taken ahead.
In the midst of the protest, the VC stated that she is yet to receive the list of demands put forward by the protestors, following which the students read out the list of demands once again.
The police report (F.I.R. C.R. No. 79/2013U/S 306 IPC) signed by the DCP (East Zone), R. Rajya Lakshmi, was released in the afternoon. The report stated laid down the circumstances leading to the incident as follows. Mudasir and Vasim were friends and roommates; however, Mudasir made “physical advances” like “hugging, kissing”, etc. which annoyed Vasim who subsequently changed his room. Following this Mudasir became very possessive and started abusing and physically attacking Vasim.
The report also stated that the police complaint was lodged by Deepesh and Gopal, two students of EFLU, who witnessed the altercation and who took Mudasir to the Police Station. The report stated that the Sub-Inspector of Police counselled Mudasir in front of the above two students and that he was in the Police Station for less than an hour. Later, a group of students – Sandeep Patil, G. Seetharam, Kotesh – accompanied by the Warden of Basheer Hostel, Prof. Veda Sharan, on personal undertaking, got Mudasir released.
The report would like to emphasize at this point that the role of Prof. Harish Vijra was conspicuously minimal in the police report.
In the evening, the Circle Inspector of the Osmania Police Station, Mr. Ashok, came to speak to the Vice-Chancellor. Following the discussion, he stepped out to mediate between the protestors and the administration. The premise was that classes were being hampered and so the protest should be called off. However, the students amicably rejected the offer.
The students released a press statement indicating at the homophobic nature of the administration which used homosexuality as an abuse, as a mal-character, to explain Mudasir’s violent behaviour as well as his demise.
The newspapers carried only the version given by the police. The students protested against the blackout of their voices from the media reports. These reports took for granted the competency of the police to certify Mudasir’s sexual orientation when it is beyond doubt that no authority – the police, the University, the doctors, friends – except Mudasir himself, can lay claim to such a knowledge.
The students named in the police report, Deepesh and Gopal, offered verbal as well as written statements to the public that the police has distorted the events of the night. They stated that they have not filed any case against Mudasir, nor did they meet the SI at any point of time in the Police Station.
The Vice-Chancellor convened a meeting with the Teachers’ Association. Apart from a handful of faculty members supported the students’ cause and urged the teachers to give a space for the students to speak, all other teachers were in support of Proctor Vijra and most insisted on re-initiating police action to regularize campus life. A small student representation was sent to the meeting asking to be given 5 minutes to invite the teachers to the open forum, but a majority of the teachers refused to give the students any time.
An open forum was called by the protesting students to interact with students, teachers and members of the administration. The demands, their basis and need to continue the protest were clearly stated. The protesters tried to clarify a number of doubts surrounding the case as well as the strike.
Some students were concerned that this protest was responsible for the unrest in Kashmir. Students also believed that the protestors were withholding facts, defending a violent criminal and unnecessarily holding the administration responsible. The protestors clarified that the media had been partial to the administration resulting in confusion. The protestors also stated that the unrest in Kashmir had nothing to do with their protest, although Mudasir’s identity as a
Kashmiri Muslim student should have been treated more sensitively by the administration, especially in the context of arbitrary police interrogation of young Muslim students in the wake of the Hyderabad blasts and the hanging of Afzal Guru. The students also pointed out the administrative laxity in resolving the issue between Mudasir and Vasim, even though it was known to the administration for the past few months. The administration had not taken adequate and human action in the form of counselling, informing parents, etc. and had instead resorted to technicalities and protocol.
None of the members of the Teachers’ Association, the administration, and the Vice-Chancellor attended the forum.
A few teachers were reported to have advised their students that, should the protest continue, the semester would be annulled.
Students were informed by sources who cannot be named that Vasim had deposed to the fact-facting committee which had convened outside the campus. The protestors had been provided no knowledge of this. They later found out that the fact-finding committee, in fact, convened clandestinely in the VC’s office and were given the impression that the original composition of the committee had substantially changed of which the student community had no formal knowledge.
Students decided to confront the VC in her office since she refused to address them outside. Apart from the Vice-Chancellor, those present in the Chamber were the Registrar, the Controller of Examinations, Prof. John Varghese, Prof. Prakash Kona, Prof.Patil, Dr.Negi.Prof. Syed Sayeed, upon seeing the students, walked out of the room.Slogans were called out until the VC was ready to address the students. She insisted that since there was a criminal case lodged against Prof. Vijra, and the matter was sub-judice (although the case has yet not reached the court), the University has no powers to suspend the Proctor.
She contradicted herself a number of times. On one occasion, she denied that she was in touch with the Kashmir Government. On another, she revealed that she was, in fact, being pressurized by the Kashmir Government. She also mentioned that she could not offer compensation as she was answerable to the Government of India. She repeatedly stated that the committee was merely for fact-finding, and not for enquiry, and that the report of the fact-finding committee would be submitted to the police to aid the investigation.
The students voiced their discontent and lack of faith in a fact-finding committee which was not neutral – its neutrality under question as Prof. Vijra’s continued occupation of the proctorial position could influence the outcome of the committee.They repeatedly explained that they want to reach a resolution at the earliest, restart classes, and in no way wanted the semester to be annulled. Students also narrated their experience with Prof. Vijra who had made his insensitivity towards Mudasir quite explicit in calling him a “mentally ill rascal” “who deserves to go to jail” and who also responded to Mudasir’s suicidal threats to Vasim with utter indifference.
The VC also stated that Prof. Prakash Kona, being the senior-most Deputy Proctor, has already been allotted the additional responsibility as Proctor. The Registrar, who was present at the Chamber, mentioned that a discussion had already taken place regarding this though the written order was still pending. The students were not satisfied because this still did not mean that Prof. Vijra has not been suspended from his administrative position.
The students negotiated on three demands, that:
(i) Prof. Vijra be immediately suspended
(ii) A new fact-finding committee be constituted with participation of members from the protesting students
(iii) A public apology to be issued by the administration for their lapses and their apathy
The students maintained that the notice announcing Prof. Vijra’s suspension should explicitly state the reasons for the action. The Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar assured the protestors that a letter would be drafted and asked the students to vacate the Chamber for 15 minutes. The students clearly stated that if a positive decision was taken, the strike would be immediately called off.
After 15 minutes, the Vice-Chancellor along with Prof. Prakash Kona, Dr.Negi and the Registrar came out to address the students. The VC refuted her earlier assurance and claimed that she can only suspend a senior faculty member and administrator after consulting the entire teaching community. When the students protested, she left the premises. The students decided to continue their protest until the demands are met.
The VC convened a meeting with the Teachers’ Association and, upon its completion, held an impromptu interaction with the students, which was suspiciously well attended though never publicized.Protestors were told that a large number of teachers had mobilized their students to support the resumption of classes. The protesting students upon hearing about this interaction moved to the venue to communicate with the rest of the community the baselessness of her allegation and the fact that the VC herself had turned back on her assurance that she would definitely take a proactive measure on our demand that the proctor be suspended following which the fact-finding committee would be re-constituted with student representation.
The VC re-stated that the protestors behaved violently the previous evening, when they had entered the VCs chamber to confront her lack of proactive attitude in the matter. She explained that, after consultation with the Teachers’ Association and the Government of India, she had been instructed to take police action or cancel the semester should class be disrupted on Monday.
A few sympathetic members of the Teachers’ Association came to the fore, suggesting that a negotiating committee be formed with equal student and teacher participation. This committee would look at the demands and negotiate with the Vice Chancellor. This is still an on-going process.
A public meeting, titled “Deceit, Democracy and a Policed Funeral”, was held by the student organizations leading the protest. The speakers were A. Bhoomaiah (President, Telangana Praja Front), Prof. Laxman (Osmania University), Mohammed Lateef Khan (Secretary, CLMC), V. Raghunath (Joint Secretary, APCLC) and Samia Vasa (Research Scholar, EFLU). They spoke in solidarity with students and condemned the undemocratic character of the administration.
A section of the teachers came together in a front – Teachers’ Front for Justice and Democracy (TFJD) – “condemn(ing) the totalitarian measures of the administration and demand(ing) the administration to democratically engage with the demands made by the students”. They accused the Teachers’ Association for functioning as stooges to the administration. They expressed their shock at the reluctance of the accused to step down from his office to face the enquiry.
As is evidenced by the incidents leading to and the death of Mudasir Kamran, as well as from the aftermath of this tragic incident, it is clear that the Administration is guilty of dereliction of duty, even as it had gone to unacceptable measures in resolving an altercation which deserved humane care.
Not only did the Administration bring upon trauma on Mudasir Kamran by sending him to the Police Station, it also was subsequently negligent of the attention that Mudasir needed, which was in the first place a result of the high-handedness that the administration meted out to Mudasir on the night of 01.03.2013.
The administrative response has been to contain the issue in the language of individual imbalance, deliberately downplaying the systemic violence and lapses that have led to the individual decision to end life. By refusing to meet the protestors’ demands, the administration continues to undermine its unquestionable role in the tragedy.
The Report also shows that the protestors’ demands stand well justified when the incidents surrounding the suicide are taken into consideration. Moreover, Munavath Sriramulu had participated on a prolonged hunger strike against the HOD, which yielded no results; not even the findings of the committee instituted by the VC.
The report would also like to clarify that multiple strands of questions now confront the protestors. One significant section of the protestors has expressed their resentment in the branding of Mudasir Kamran as homosexual. They maintain that claims regarding the sexual orientation of the deceased are fabricated and are deployed to malign Mudasir. This kind of understanding has a political basis in the historical context of homosexuality being associated with the Muslim community to discredit them in a discourse which links homosexuality with delinquency and violence.
Another section of the protestors have reclaimed the issue of homosexuality as central to this tragedy. They have raised important questions to the institutional homophobia of the administration and the cultural homophobia of the students. Why is it that homosexuality has to be always proved and heterosexuality always self-evident, in no need of identification, always available? Why is it that to call someone homosexual is to malign or insult them? If homosexuality was the issue, why was the police needed? What was the sexual harassment committee doing? Where was the Gender Group? What are the available support mechanisms for homosexual people at EFLU?
If mental health was the issue, is calling the police the way to handle it? Where is the University counsellor? Where is the supportive mechanism for students already under pressure from the state? If the two came together to cause violence, what needed to be done about it?
As a student community we have begun to think about a number of questions that now confront us: What is it to be homosexual on an Indian University campus? What is it to be a ‘sane’ Kashmiri on an Indian University campus? What is to be ‘sane’ in the structures of patriarchy, compulsory heterosexuality, religious formation and violent nationalisms all of which affect us?
Even as the students continue to engage with one another and question our own entrenched positions in homophobia, majoritarianism and dependence on administrative protocols, our own narrow attitudes towards mental health, etc., we stand firm in our assertion of the homophobic system and the patriarchal nature of the administration whose exceptions privilege the already privileged.
The Struggle Committee for Justice for Mudasir Kamran hereby submits its testimony (in progress, as the struggle continues). The Committee asserts that it is in no way responsible for the rumour-mongering that is driven by homophobia, anti-Muslim sentiments and blind pro-administration faith.