Statehood issue crops at OU convocation, which otherwise was held peacefully

The Osmania University convocation witnessed a never heard of incident when a candidate refused to take the Ph.D degree certificate to protest the inordinate delay in granting separate Statehood for Telangana.

L. Pandu Ranga Reddy, who submitted his doctoral degree in history, went to the stage and refused to take the degree when presented by the chief guest Goverdhan Mehta, National Research Professor and Lilly Jubilant Chair, University of Hyderabad. He politely told the chief guest that he cannot take the degree when students were committing suicide for a separate State and the government was insensitive to the issue.

The incident charged up other candidates in the hall, who raised ‘Jai Telangana’ slogans and Mr. Reddy was given a loud applause as he walked down the dais. Except this unusual incident, the convocation passed off peacefully.

Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who was supposed to participate in the ceremony, did not attend following intelligence inputs that his visit would trigger tension in the campus. Senior police officials said the Governor preferred to skip the convocation after the government cautioned him that his visit may lead to law and order problems in the university which is the nerve-centre for the separate Telangana agitation. The special branch and intelligence sleuths had earlier alerted the government about possible trouble on the campus if the Governor, who is the Chancellor of all State universities, attends the ceremony.

The Progressive Democratic Students Union (PDSU) earlier called for a University bandh on Thursday to protest the Governor’s visit. Police tightened security at the Tagore auditorium and the main route leading to the campus. Participants were allowed inside the auditorium only after a thorough checking and verifying their identity. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) M. Venkateswar monitored the security arrangements.

Prof. Mehta presented certificates to 279 PhD students in ten different streams and eight M. Phil students. Twenty-nine students received gold medals for excelling in various streams. Speaking on the occasion, OU Vice-Chancellor S. Satyanarayana said plans have been chalked out to integrate the functioning of Directorate of Academic Audit Cell, Directorate of Admissions and Examination branch to provide single window services for students and affiliated colleges. Twenty students, who burnt the Governor’s effigy and staged demonstration at the NCC gate expecting the Governor to attend the convocation, were taken into custody.

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