Hyderabad, Jan 24: University of Hyderabad Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao, in the eye of the storm over the suicide of a Dalit research scholar, has gone on leave but the students continued their protest on the campus. Vipin Srivastava, the seniormost professor, will perform the duties of the vice chancellor, the university announced on Sunday. Rao was under fire for his handling of the issue relating to the suspension of five Dalit students, one of whom, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide on January 17. Demanding the vice chancellor’s resigtion, students continued their protest in the university.
Meanwhile, the university registrar also issued orders on Sunday with regard to revocation of suspension of four students. The executive council on Thursday had decided to revoke the suspension. The students, however, continued their protest demanding the vice chancellor’s ouster. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, an umbrella of student groups, has vowed to continue the protest till justice is done to Rohith’s family. A day after police shifted seven students who were on an indefinite hunger strike to hospital, another batch of seven students went on fast. The JAC has also called for ‘Chalo HCU’ (Hyderabad Central University) on Monday to intensify the protest. It has called upon students from across the country to reach the campus for protest.
The JAC is demanding arrest of central ministers Smirit Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, BJP legislator Ramchandra Rao and the vice chancellor, blaming them for Rohith’s suicide and social boycott of Dalit students. The protestors also alleged that Telanga Police was shielding the culprits. “Arrests have to be made under SC/ST Atrocities Act immediately as it is a cognizable/non-bailable offence,” the JAC said. A case for abetment to suicide and for violation of Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act was booked against Dattretya, the vice chancellor and two leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on January 18.
Meanwhile, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, visited the university on Sunday and expressed solidarity with the students. Telanga Pradesh Congress Committee chief Uttam Kumar Reddy, Congress leader in Telanga assembly Jardhan Reddy and other party leaders also met the students. (IANS)