Students agitating for justice in the Rohith Vemula case have intensified their protests. Protests have spread across the nation as the All India Students Federation called a nation-wide university bandh on Wednesday to demand action against Hyderabad Central University’s (HCU) Vice Chancellor Appa Rao.
Student unions across the country are holding rallies in support of the bandh. Students from premiere institutes like Osmania University in Hyderabad, Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University are said to have boycotted classes.
In Delhi, JNU students also had plans to conduct a protest march up to the HRD Ministry.
Students want Appa Rao’s immediate suspension and they also demand that Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya be dropped from the cabinet.
“Government must remove Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya from his ministry” said Wali Ullah Qadri, President of All India Students Federation to RSTV.
AISF is also planning to hold a massive agitation in Hyderabad on Rohith Vemula’s birthday, January 30.
Students at HCU have been protesting for the past 10 days since the death of research scholar Rohith Vemula. Vemula committed suicide on January 17 alleging atrocity by college authorities against dalit students. Vemula and four other students, all from the dalit community, were suspended by the university last year for allegedly attacking an ABVP leader. However, HCU had already revoked the suspension of the four students before Vemula’s suicide came to light.
On Tuesday, HCU in-charge Vipin Srivastava issued a fresh appeal urging the students to help restore normalcy on the campus.
“University activities have come to a standstill due to continued blockade of academic and administrative facilities because of the agitation. This will lead to a delay in the completion of courses affecting the employment and higher education prospects of the students,” pleaded Srivastava on the university’s website.
Srivastava also appealed to the students sitting on hunger strike for the last three days to withdraw their protest and resolve the deadlock through dialogue.
The ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ campaign has also received support in London, where South Asian student groups held a candle-lit vigil outside the Indian High Commission on Republic Day. The protesters demanded dismissal of HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. They also demanded Appa Rao’s resignation over what they described as his “casteist action”.