The ‘beef festival' organised by Dalit students' organisations in Osmania University campus turned violent on Sunday evening. Police had to lob teargas shells and resort to lathicharge to separate rival student groups opposing the festival.
The campus continued to be tense till late in the night as five students were injured when they were attacked while returning from the festival. It was the first ever ‘beef festival' in OU being organised under the banner of Democratic Cultural Forum in association with various Dalit groups.
Enough steam was built up in the preceding days of the event with Dalit groups describing it as reclamation of their cultural rights, while the rival right wing groups distributed pamphlets condemning cow slaughter. In view of the attacks by Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad (ABVP) activists during a similar event in EFLU last April, the festival was planned on a larger scale this time with participation of intellectuals and professors supporting the demand of inclusion of beef in the hostel menu.
Sensing trouble ahead of the D-day, police officials convinced the organisers to order food from outside instead of preparing it in the campus. Accordingly, beef biryani was brought from outside and served to the gathering near the NRS (Ambedkar) Hostel at about 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, a group of about 100 miscreants assembled near the basketball grounds at 6.30 p.m. and surged towards the venue. Raising slogans against policemen keeping them at bay, the mob moved ahead menacingly when the police resorted to teargas as those participating in the feast too got ready for a showdown.
After a lull, rival students group began throwing stones and attacked media vehicles. A private TV channel's vehicle was totally burnt down, while another's was partly damaged, also injuring a technician. But, much to the relief of the police, the festival organisers wound up the feast to prevent further trouble.
Academician P.L.Vishweshwar Rao, journalist Akhileshwari, poet Meena Kandasamy, journalist-editor N.Venugopal, and activists D.Prabhakar and Ramulu were among those who participated in the feast.