Hyderabad Central University continues to singe with fresh protest erupting on Tuesday morning over the suicide of a Dalit Ph. D scholar. Several student outfits in the Universities across the country are staging protest expressing solidarity with the deceased. The agitating students and members of the student outfit Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) even held demonstration outside the city residence of Union Labour minister and senior BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya, who has been named in the FIR along with varsity Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others filed by Telangana police.
V Rohith, the deceased scholar who would have turned 27 later this month, along with four other Dalit research scholars was barred an entry inside his hostel and even the mess on the orders of University authorities for allegedly attacking a student leader belonging to Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) last year.
“If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that,” Rohith purportedly wrote in his suicide note.
Intensifying their protest early on Tuesday, the students gathered in the administrative block of the university and resorted to slogans seeking ‘justice’ for the late Dalit scholar. According to reports, section 144 has been imposed inside the campus.
Some activists belonging to Telangana Jagruthi, a social and cultural outfit led by the ruling party TRS too tried to hold a protest outside the residence of Dattatreya in Hyderabad this morning, demanding his resignation.
The incident has now assumed larger proportions with Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi visiting the University campus. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too has demanded a statement from PM Modi, where as several other political parties and leaders has condemned the incident.
Apart from the political parties, students across at several prominent universities raised protest over the issue.
Students of FTII began a day-long hunger strike outside the institute’s gate in Pune expressing solidarity with the students protest in Hyderabad Central University.
“We are in solidarity with students protesting the death of Rohit Vemula, and as many as eight students from the Film & Television Institute of India have sat on hunger strike for a day,” FTII Students’ Association president Harishankar Nachimuthu said.
The hunger strike started with eight students and slowly other students too are joining the protest, he said.
The Union Human Resource Development ministry, that formed a two-member fact finding team to look into the suicide of the late research scholar, rejected the allegations that it put pressure on the HCU authorities in the matter relating to the suspension of Dalit scholars last year. It also termed the writing of four reminders to the varsity authorities over the letter written by Dattatreya as only following the procedures.
Dattatreya had reportedly sough “action” against the student outfit last year in his letter written to the Union HRD ministry.
According to the reports, the action against five scholars was recommended by the sub-committee of the Executive Council based on Proctorial Committee inquiry. The EC (executive council) sub-committee was constituted by present Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and was chaired by Prof. Vipin Srivastava.
In a statement issued on Monday, the university authorities claimed that the “Executive Council determined not to affect the students’ academics and taking a lenient view, decided to only suspend the students from their hostels and curb their involvement in public gatherings unlike complete suspension as suggested in the Proctorial Board report”.
“In the month of August, there was a fight involving students of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) and Susheel Kumar of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which eventually reached the court… With regard to this incident, the Proctorial Board of the University was asked to submit a report with suggestions of the quantum of punishment, following which five students were suspended,” the statement further added.
(With inputs from the PTI)