With protest at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) over suicide of 26-year-old Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula only growing further, the varsity authorities on Thursday revoked suspension of four Dalit scholars, who were suspended along with late Rohith Vemula. Earlier in the day, faculty members belonging to Dalit community had decided to step down from administrative positions expressing support for the agitating students.
The revocation decision was taken at the Executive Council meeting on Thursday.
“The Council, after taking into account the extraordinary situation prevailing in the university and after discussing the issue in detail, resolved to terminate the punishment imposed on the students concerned with immediate effect,” HCU said in a statement Hyderabad.
Earlier, the forum for Scheduled Caste faculty at the HCU had said that 13 of its members would step down from their administrative positions as a mark of solidarity with the agitating students.
“We have taken a decision to lay down all our administrative position which some of our colleagues are holding…we are expecting some kind of decision from the authorities, if not done, we will be forced to do that,” Sudhakat Babu, a forum member said.
The forum members had even released a statement refuting with Union HRD minister Smriti Irani’s claims that the panel which decided on punishment for Rohith and four other Dalit students, included a Dalit faculty.
The forum, in its statement, said that it is unfortunate that the Union minister “misrepresented” the facts of the case as the Executive Council sub-committee which took the decision to suspend the students was headed by an “upper caste” Professor Vipin Srivastava.
“Such a baseless and misleading statement coming from honourable Minister of HRD amounts to bringing down the morale of the Dalits holding administrative positions in this university as well as other universities…In response to the Honourable Minister’s fabricated statements, we the Dalit (SC/ST) faculty and officers will lay down our administrative positions,” the statement said.
When contacted by the news agency, a senior faculty member told PTI, “We (faculty and other officials) are going to give up our administrative posts if the minister doesn’t correct her statement”.
Rohith, the deceased scholar who would have turned 27 later this month, had committed suicide inside a hostel room on Sunday. He and four other Dalit research scholars were barred entry inside his hostel and even in the mess on the orders of University authorities after the they were involved in the incident of allegedly attacking a student leader belonging to Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) last year.
The suicide has snowballed into a major political issue with Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya being accused of pressing the varsity authorities to act against Dalit students over the issue of alleged attack on ABVP leader.
Dattatreya is also named in the FIR along with varsity Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and three others under the charges of abetment to suicide.
The agitating students too accused the HRD minister Smriti Irani of making a “wrong statement”.
“We would like refute each and every point,” a leader of the agitating students said reacting to her presser. He also added that the minister mentioned that an executive council in the university had Dalit representatives but the body only had a “co-opted SC member”.
“The minister stated that the suicide note of Rohit was the only document made available to her but the deceased had written to the Vice Chancellor earlier,” the agitating student said.
(With inputs from the PTI)