Former VC, Staunch Critic of RSS, Being Targeted for Lucknow University Violence

Roop Rekha Verma has denied even being present at the protest site when the violence occurred, and claims she is being targeted for criticising some of the steps taken by the varsity against the ethos of secularism.

New Delhi: The Lucknow University administration and the Uttar Pradesh police have chosen to blame a 75-year-old former vice-chancellor of the varsity, Roop Rekha Verma, for the violence that occurred earlier this week. On July 4, students allegedly attacked the current vice-chancellor, S.P. Singh, amidst an ongoing protest by students who have been denied admission by the university.

Verma is known to be a staunch critic of the religious Right and Singh is known to have close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The university administration has ordered a probe into the alleged role played by Verma, and after the high court took suo moto cognisance of the violence, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) told the court that Verma encouraged the agitating students to resort to violence.

Verma has denied her role in the violence, stating that she was in fact not even present when it took place. “I was many miles away. Not present at the protest site at all when the violence took place,” said Verma. She did, however, go and lend her support to the protesting students two days prior to the incident. “When I learnt that students with good academic records are being denied admission, I went and supported their protest. I sat with them at their dharna. But that was two days before the violence took place. And in no way, did I or anyone else at the protest encourage violence,” she said.

“They are trying to target me because I have been an outspoken critic of the university administration and how some of the steps taken by it go against the ethos of secularism,” Verma said.

The protest

Since July 2, 20 students have been protesting in the university against them not being admitted to various courses. They have termed the decision of the Lucknow University arbitrary and unfair. On July 4, as the vice-chancellor was passing the site of the protest in his car, some students tried to block his path and a skirmish broke out.

The high court, which took suo moto cognisance of the violence, reprimanded the UP police for not acting on the complaint of the Lucknow University administration. It has asked the state police to file an affidavit informing the court about its investigations into the violence that took place on campus. The matter will be heard again on July 16.