It was the 14th of February 2010.
As the whole world was celebrating the festival of love, police and paramilitary forces stationed in Osmania University expressed a different kind of emotion – hatred!
They unleashed terror in that temple of education. Their behavior was probably unheard of in Indian history. That night, the violence perpetrated by police forces on Osmania University students and journalists shocked a judge at AP High Court so much that he said “There was only one General Dyer during British regime, but we have several Dyers now”
That evening, Osmania students took out a rally urging the MLAs of this region to resign for Telangana. Osmania University has already turned into a Pole Star for the Telangana statehood movement. The whole region started emulating the Joint Action Committee (JAC) model started by the Osmania students.
The police and political bosses were not impressed with the ongoing student agitation. They wanted to suppress this student agitation using brute force. They were just waiting for an opportune moment.
And that evening, the students’ rally irked the police bosses so much that they thought this is the moment they were waiting for. The ACP stationed at Osmania University – Seetha Raamaanjaneyulu hails from Seemandhra region and is known to be a rabid anti-Telangana cop. He was in fact the mastermind behind what happened that night at Osmania.
As darkness set in, the students’ rally was stopped suddenly and police started caning them. The students ran helter skelter. Lathicharge was not new to OU students. In the past 3 months, they had faced lathicharge several times. But this time around, the police and paramilitary forces were acting very differently.
First, the students’ rally was peaceful, so there was no need for any lathicharge. Second, the lathicharge began suddenly without any provocation or warning. And the police did not spare the students even as they ran into their hostel rooms.
Some police personnel even entered the ladies hostel and started misbehaving with the students. One cop apparently opened his pant zipper and gestured obscenely and said “Do you want Telangana? See here it is”.
About 11 girls were seriously injured in these attacks and were hospitalized.
The police removed the power supply to Osmania university and started attacking select targets within the universoty. The journalists stationed at OU, who were sympathetic to the movement, became the next target of police. Media personnel belonging to Andhra Jyothy, Vaartha newspapers, HMTV, ZEE24 Hours and other channels were directly attacked by the police forces.
The police then damaged a Tea Stall, which was serving as a meeting point for students. This shameful saga of violence continued unabated for 6 hours.
The police stopped 108 ambulance from coming into the university to take the injured to hospitals. About 40 bikes belonging to students and media personnel were smashed by the police. They set a few bikes on fire and danced around that fire in jubilation. Few paramilitary jawans then urinated on these bikes.
There was a method in this madness. This police mark violence was done with a twin purpose. To shake the moral confidence of OU students and also to scare the media personnel who were providing media coverage to this student movement.
When images of bleeding girls and journalists started beaming in from Osmania, people around the state were shocked. Newspapers carried detailed stories of how inhuman the police behaved that night.
The state High Court took strong exception to this high handed behavior of police forces. Justice Narasimha Reddy ordered immediate removal of police forces from the university.
Journalist bodies conducted protest rallies around the state. The Press council of India, in a unprecedented move, sent a team to prepare a detailed report on the whole incident.
Stung by the severe criticism coming in from all quarters, the state government started some damage control exercises. First, they transferred ACP Seetha Raamanjaneyulu, and also promised the journalists that the government would reimburse the medical bills and also the damages incurred to their vehicles.
After one long year, the state government failed to keep up its promise and did not release the reimbursements to journalists. Peeved by this callous attitude, the journalists sat on a dharna in front of Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy’s chambers in the state Secretariat on the 14th of February.
The state government has finally come down and released Rs. 7.94 lakhs as damages to journalists vide GO 448.
May be the govt’s compensation will help these journalist repair their vehicles, but can it ever erase the memories of that dark night is the big question.