FIR under Atrocities Act against Vice Chancellor of Pune varsity

The Hindu: July 8, 2019

An FIR has been registered against Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) Vice Chancellor Nitin Karmalkar and four others, under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Chaturshringi police registered the FIR on Saturday night, following a complaint by Akash Bhosale (25), who is pursuing an M. Phil degree in Marathi. Mr. Bhosale also works as a journalist for vernacular print and broadcast media.

The Pune sessions court last month had directed the police to investigate Mr. Bhosale’s complaint after the latter filed a petition in the court. Mr. Bhosale’s counsel, Tosif Shaikh, had alleged that he was falsely implicated in a case filed by the university as he belongs to the backward class.

The case referred to a students’ protest on April 1, against the ad-hoc refectory rules put up by the university. The rules, issued in the last week of March, had scrapped the coupon system and prohibited the sharing of meals with ‘guest’ students. They stipulated that henceforth, only students with a monthly pass would be served meals at the refectory.

“I had gotten wind of these rules and reported on the same in a vernacular paper that I work for. I had also written that there could be unrest among students over this,” Mr. Bhosale told The Hindu.

The new rules led to a commotion between students and university security personnel near the refectory on April 1. The SPPU administration later lodged a complaint with the Chaturshringi police against a number of students, accusing them of vandalism among other things.

Twelve students, including Mr. Bhosale, were named in the FIR that was filed against them the same day under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Terming the protest spontaneous and not planned, Mr. Bhosale alleged that he was named in the FIR as he had written a number of articles against the SPPU, exposing alleged malpractices within the establishment.

He said students, who usually hail from social margins, shared meals in a bid to cut costs. “The university never gave prior intimation of their new refectory rules nor held any discussions with students. Furthermore, we only came to know the following day (April 2) that an FIR had been filed against us.

Why was I singled out despite other journalists being present at the protest?” Mr. Bhosale asked, alleging that the FIR against him was an attempt on part of the university to dissuade him from writing anti-establishment articles.

In response, Mr. Bhosale approached the police, but they refused to take cognisance of the issue. Finally, he petitioned the Sessions Court, which directed the police to lodge an FIR against the university authorities. When contacted, university officials refused to comment on the matter.

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