Date: 07/10/2013

Nikhila Henry, TNN | Oct 7, 2013, 03.15 PM IST

Students stage a protest and burn the effigy of Congress leaders demanding United Andhra at AU campus in Visakhapatnam on Monday.

HYDERABAD: Attendance in Hyderabad's colleges has shown a 25% decline and teachers are blaming it on the ongoing Seemandhra protests.

Students from the two regions pursuing courses in technology and undergraduate colleges in Hyderabad have left for their homes, either due to fear of a backlash in the 'T' region or to participate in the protest which has gripped coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.

College officials said the drop in attendance started last week after teachers found Seemandhra students 'missing' from the classes.

Authorities say about 40% of the students, who study in the city hail from the 13 non-Telangana districts.

The numbers are expected to fall further in the coming days, they rued.

Predictably, most students who have left for their hometowns have also expressed their anxieties about staying back in the city where resentment towards united Andhra Pradesh protests is on the rise.

Attendance in colleges owned by 'T' businessmen and politicians is strikingly low, some officials said.

"There is a growing anxiety among such students who are studying in the city. And amid the current political turmoil, college managements need to create an apolitical atmosphere on Hyderabad campuses to reassure safety of the students," said a student.

Tiffs between students of different regions have become a common event on city campuses, officials said, adding that it's difficult to contain sentiments on both sides.

"All canteen conversations turn into political discussions on the status of bifurcation. Studies have taken a backseat," said B Chaitanya Kumar, a second year engineering student from Guntur.

The same is the case with students from 'T' region.

"Last week there was a freshers meet in the college and the topic given for debate to junior batch was on the bifurcation of the state. Teachers had to intervene as the discussion turned offensive on both sides," M K Rajesh, a student from Miryalguda said.

Teachers in city colleges are trying their best to steer clear of controversial topics. "We have strict instructions from the management to prevent any discussion on the issue as more students seem to be worried. Many anxiety cases are being reported to counsellors appointed by the college," said Bhavani Reddy, faculty member of a college in Gandipet.

College managements are however granting leave students who have asked for the same fearing a backlash based on regional sentiments. "Some students had even brought their parents to college to get leave stating regional trouble," said principal of a college. With protests in Seemandhra likely to continue and transport system badly hit in the roiled region, chances of these students coming back to the classrooms soon is remote.