Rahul fasts at Hyderabad varsity, calls for law against discrimition
HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI, Jan 30: The protest over the suicide of a Dalit research scholar in University of Hyderabad intensified with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi again joining the agitators at the campus and observing a day-long fast on Saturday, even as the BJP targeted him for “playing politics over dead bodies”.
For more than 12 hours, Gandhi, who had participated in a candlelight vigil after Friday midnight and spent the night on the campus, sat with students, including the four others suspended, and Rohith Vemula’s family members, as they held a day-long hunger strike for justice at the protest venue near the Shopping Complex. They also marked the birth anniversary of Vemula, who committed suicide two weeks ago.
Dalit ideologue Kancha Ilaiah offered fruit juice to him in the evening to end the fast.
Noting there was “massive discrimition” in universities and other institutions, Gandhi asked the BJP and the RSS not to impose their ideas on students and suggested Prime Minister rendra Modi “look into the possibilities of passing a law against discrimition at universities”.
“My main opposition to Modiji and the RSS is that they are trying to crush the spirit of Indian youngsters by imposing one idea from the top. Don’t force one idea on students,” he said.
“Please put your idea in the market place of ideas and then if students accept that idea, I am fine with it,” he added.
Dozens of other students were also on the day-long hunger strike to press the demand for the resigtion of Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao and action against him and others responsible for the suicide.
“I am here today at the request of Rohith’s friends and family, to stand with them in their fight for justice,” tweeted Gandhi, who visited the campus for the second time in less than a week.
“A young life full of dreams and aspirations was cut short.”
Also paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary, he also commented that all owe it “to the memory of Gandhiji and to every single Indian student who dreams of an India free from prejudice and injustice”.
Former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, workers of the Youth Congress, tiol Students Union of India (NSUI), students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and various universities also joined the mass hunger strike.
Congress’ Telanga unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy and other party leaders and workers were arrested near the campus when they staged a protest against the Modi government’s iction in the case.
Police beefed up security on the campus in view of the call given by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to protest Gandhi’s visit, and for a shutdown of educatiol institutions across Telanga to protest what it calls the attempts of the Congress leader to play politics over the suicide.
About 50 ABVP workers were arrested shortly after Friday midnight when they tried to stop Gandhi’s convoy at the university’s main gate.
In New Delhi, students belonging to various groups staged a protest near the RSS office, raising slogans against its “interference” in academic institutions.
Meanwhile, the BJP on Saturday asked Rahul Gandhi to “not politicise” the death of the Dalit research scholar, and stop “playing politics on dead bodies”.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told reporters in the tiol capital that it was not a “Dalit versus non-Dalit” issue but a classic case of trying to score political points.
The Congress dismissed the allegations, with spokesman Ajay Maken saying Gandhi was raising his voice for justice, while central minister Bandaru Dattatreya had politicised the issue by writing to the human resource development ministry to take action against the Dalit students. Gandhi had visited the campus on January 19, two days after Rohith committed suicide. (IANS)