Dalit Scholar’s Suicide: HCU in-charge VC faces ire, Delhi students join protest

NEW DELHI(ANI): Incharge Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) Vipin Srivastava faced the ire of agitating students when he reached their protest site to initiate a dialogue with them to break the impasse over Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Srivastava stood at the protest site for a few minutes even as the students raised slogans against him, asking him ‘to go back’. He left after a few minutes. Some one banged on his car when it was about to move. “We have been criticised constantly that no one is making an effort. The truth of the matter is that the police have been stopping me. It is stopping us, Prof Appa Rao Podile (the VC who has gone on leave) as well as me. Because they felt that it may result in a law and order situation,” Srivastava said.

Noting that a large number of students, agitating over the suicide of Rohith, gheraoed his residence in the staff quarters this morning when he was busy in a meeting with non-teaching staff, he said he prevailed upon the police today to let him go and interact with the protesting students. “I told the police once again that, look, this is what is happening and they are not unruly. I would like to go and talk to them then they gave me the clearance and I went along with my colleague… both of us went there. I think you were there, you saw what happened,” Srivastava said.

He said he could have stayed at the protest site for a longer duration but felt that there was no purpose. “I could stay have stayed for longer. But then, I did not see any purpose because they were not willing to speak. I thought they wanted some body to come and talk to them. So I went, there was no possibility,” the incharge VC said. Dickens, a representative of protesting students, said they hold Srivastava “equally culpable” in the alleged wrong affairs in the university and that they are demanding that he should step down from the post of VC.

“We will not actually have any dialogue with any committee formed under the order of the Vice Chancellor. We see him (Srivastava) equally culpable on the wrongs that have been done as the chairperson of executive council. We want him to step down first that is why we also went to his house,” he said.

Delhi students join protest against HRD Ministry

Protesting the alleged “delay in justice” to Hyderabad university research scholar, scores of students from varsities across Delhi once again marched to the HRD Ministry where 60 of them were detained by Delhi police. According to police, due to security concerns, around 60 students were detained from outside Shastri Bhawan and taken to Parliament Street police station. “Every time we try to go to the Ministry and raise our demands with HRD Minister Smriti Irani, we are held back and detained by police. Protesting is a basic right. We can’t be denied that at a time when the government is trying to cover up ‘institutional murder’,” JNU Students Union vice president Shehla Rashid Shora said.

Members of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) and Left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) were also part of the protesters. “We are protesting against the delay in justice to the student who had to end his life due to the harassment by the institution. Who will be held accountable for similar such suicides in varsities across country which go unreported?” Sucheta De from AISA, asked

The protests over the issue have been rocking the national capital since last week, with three JNU students sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since Sunday. 26-year-old Rohit Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at Hyderabad Central University’s hostel room on January 17. He was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on an ABVP student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel. The suspension was revoked later.

Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor were named in an FIR over the death of the scholar, which triggered massive protests and demands for their removal from their posts.
The issue also took a political turn with allegations that the extreme action was a result of discrimination against Dalit students after Dattatreya had written a letter to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani seeking action against their “anti-national acts”.

In a bid to defuse the raging controversy, the Centre had last week decided to set up a judicial commission to go into the suicide, and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 8 lakh to his family but protests continued.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence and expressed grief over the death of Vemula, students are demanding the removal of Irani and Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor.