HCU VC goes on ‘long leave’ but no end to agitation

RSTV Bureau
Guwahati: Members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) light candles at a protest in Guwahati on Thursday over the suicide of student Rohith Vemula at University of Hyderabad. Photo - PTI

Guwahati: Members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) light candles at a protest in Guwahati on Thursday over the suicide of student Rohith Vemula at University of Hyderabad.
Photo – PTI

Agitating students at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Monday rejected the appointment of Vipin Srivastava as interim Vice-Chancellor of the Hyderabad University. Srivastava was handed over interim charge after the current VC Appa Rao Podile went on a “long leave” on Sunday. The protesting students have been demanding Appa Rao’s removal following the suicide of 26-year-old Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula on January 17.

But now the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, which is spearheading the agitation, has also rejected the appointment of Vipin Srivastava as interim Vice-Chancellor of the HCU, thereby intensifying their protest even further.

“It is to bring to your notice again that in 2007, Vipin Srivastava was main accused in the yet another institutional murder of Senthil Kumar, a dalit research scholar in the Department of Physics,” the JAC alleged in the statement released on Monday.

As per the latest reports, some faculty members too have resigned from their administrative positions expressing solidarity with the agitating students.

Earlier on Sunday, facing protest over Rohith’s suicide, V-C Appa Rao Podile proceeded on leave, saying he was “advised to be little away from campus” to break the current “impasse”.

“The Vice-Chancellor will be on a leave. In the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, Vipin Srivastava, the senior most professor, shall perform the duties of the Vice-Chancellor wef 24-01-2016,” the Hyderabad Central University said on its website.

Rohith, the deceased scholar who would have turned 27 later this month, committed suicide inside a hostel room last week. He and four other Dalit research scholars were barred an entry inside their hostel and even in the students’ mess on the orders of University authorities after they were involved in the incident of allegedly attacking a student leader belonging to Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) last year.

New Delhi: Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani along with her cabinet colleagues Thawarchand Gehlot and Nirmla Sitaraman addressing a press conference regarding suicide of the young research scholar Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad, in New Delhi on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016. Photo-PTI

New Delhi: Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani along with her cabinet colleagues Thawarchand Gehlot and Nirmla Sitaraman addressing a press conference regarding suicide of the young research scholar Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad, in New Delhi on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2016.
Photo-PTI

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”. Irani had last week addressed a press briefing in New Delhi, where she held that the current issue is “Dalit v/s Non-Dalit fight”.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Monday submitted before the Hyderabad High Court that it has revoked suspension of four students, against whom action had been initiated along with Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.

The HCU had in September last year suspended five students — D Prasanth, Vijay Kumar, Sheshaiah Chemuudugunta, Velpula Sunkanna and Rohith, for six months (entire semester) for allegedly assaulting ABVP leader Susheel Kumar in August.

The counsel of the four students, however, said that they were not served with the order copy in this regard.

But in the campus, the agitation is far from over with the protesting student’s group — JAC – saying that it will call for a bandh in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh if their demands are not met.

(With inputs from the PTI)