Osmania University tense after beef festival clashes

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Hyderabad:  Twenty four hours after trouble broke out at a beef festival organised on the Osmania University in Hyderabad, the campus is still looking under siege. Policemen are guarding entry and exit routes to ensure no outsiders enter and instigate trouble.

The festival had been organised by several student groups who claimed to be opposing "food fascism" in hostels, the police said on Monday. The beef festival saw clashes, where five students were injured, and vehicles were burnt.

The situation in the university was tense as violence continued in the campus past midnight. Protestors set a media vehicle and a bus on fire.

The clashes broke out on Sunday night after some Dalit and left-wing student groups organised a beef festival on the campus, to highlight their demand for including beef in the hostel menu. Over 200 students and some professors attended the festival and ate various dishes made of beef.

The University vice-chancellor has however clarified that no change is planned as of now in the University canteen menu.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists staged a protest against the festival and clashed with the organisers. The two groups attacked each other with stones and sticks.

Police used teargas shells and batons to disperse the clashing groups. The campus, which witnessed many violent protests over the separate Telangana state during the last two years, turned into a battlefield.

The beef festival was organised by Telangana Students Association, Progressive Democratic Student Union, Student Federation of India and student groups from English and Foreign Languages University.

The organisers claimed that beef is a part of their cultural identity and an affordable source of nutrition. They said the festival was to oppose 'food fascism' in university hostels.

Supporting the demand, PL Visweswara Rao, former professor of communication and journalism at the university, said students have a right to seek a particular food. He alleged that the police and the university administration failed to protect the students participating in the festival.

The ABVP, which opposed the beef festival, called for a university shutdown on Monday.

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