The ongoing agitation in Sri Venkateswara University (SVU) campus over the merger of half-a-dozen departments took a nasty turn on Tuesday with student leaders burning the effigies of Vice-Chancellor and Registrar at the portals of its administrative building ‘Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy Bhavan’.

The varsity had decided to merge Linguistics into Telugu department, Ancient Indian History into History, Human Rights into Law, Biotechnology into Zoology, etc., for administrative convenience and also with the aim of strengthening weaker departments. The decision was largely based on the draft report of the High Power Committee on rationalisation of staffing pattern in the universities. In fact, the move also had the backing of the Executive Council and recommended by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.

On the other hand, several student union leaders having varied political affiliations came under the banner of ‘Ikya Vidyarthi Vedika’ and vehemently opposed the move, dubbing it a ‘unilateral decision’ by the present dispensation that would spell doom for them once they passed out, fearing that their degrees would lose recognition.

The authorities conducted deliberations twice with the student leaders to convince them that the decision would in no way affect their careers.

The varsity had, in the past too, successfully merged various departments with little resistance. For example, physical and social anthropology were merged into one, while the science and arts courses in the Engineering College were amalgamated and brought under the ambit of the College of Arts and Sciences long ago.

“This is a routine exercise. The posts and courses have specific budget and roster system and hence they will not be affected due to the merger of departments,” Vice-Chancellor W. Rajendra told The Hindu. “The genuine concerns of all the stakeholders have been addressed and it is only the unscrupulous elements that are trying to take the administration to ransom”, the officials maintained.