Protest rages over Dalit student’s suicide as Politicians jump in

Scholar's suicide throws up new angles even as politicians get into the act of mud throwing
Scholar's suicide throws up new angles even as politicians get into the act of mud throwing

New Delhi

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]P[/dropcap]rotests over suicide by a dalit student, Rohith Vemula, of Hyderabad University spread to different parts of the country on Tuesday as demand grew for the resignation of Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya and varsity Vice chancellor Appa Rao. The development has come as a big setback for the BJP, which has been making every effort to reach out to the Dalit community in the recent past.

As politics dominated the tragedy, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the campus on Tuesday to show solidarity with protesting students and demanded action against Dattatreya and the VC.

The students have alleged that the university penalized five Dalit research scholars, including Rohith, under political pressure from BJP and ABVP leaders.
Dattatreya had written to union minister for human resources development Smriti Irani for directing the University to take action on against the activists of Ambedkar Students Association, a group of dalit students, after their clash with the ABVP in August 2015.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Students alleged that after Dattatreya letter the University administration cracked down on Rohith on December 21 after Dattatreya’s letter. He and his four other friends were placed under suspension and not even allowed to enter the campus.

However, in Delhi, HRD ministry has denied it even recommended the university to act against the students on Dattatreya’s letter. The HRD ministry sources said they had sent five letters to the VC asking him to merely look into “issues raised by the MoS may be examined and facts intimated.” A two-member committee sent by the HRD ministry on Tuesday also reached Hyderabad also began its probe amid massive protests.

Meanwhile, Rahul air-dashed from Delhi to meet the students and back their demands. He sought action against union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the Hyderabad University vice chancellor and others allegedly responsible for the suicide of Rohith Vemula.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he student ended his life on Sunday while staging protest along with four other research scholars over their suspension following an alleged clash with some leaders of ABVP.

“Whoever is responsible for this outcome has to be punished in strictest manner possible,” Gandhi said while addressing students at the place where suspended students members of Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, an umbrella of 14 student unions, are on indefinite strike.

Without naming them, he said a union minister in Delhi and the vice chancellor created conditions which led to the research scholar committing suicide.

“Certainly he has committed suicide but the conditions for his suicide have been created by the vice chancellor, the minister and the institution,” said the Congress leader while seeking immediate resignation of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]G[/dropcap]andhi, who spent nearly two hours meeting four other suspended Dalit students and consoling the student’s family, also demanded compensation to the family. He also paid respects to Rohith at a memorial constructed by students.

He also met students who are on hunger strike in support of their demands including Rs.5 crore ($739,000) compensation to the family and a job.

Gandhi said that the idea of a university is that young people from various parts of the country come here and express whatever is there in their heart.

“The idea of a university is knowledge. When somebody tries to impose on youngsters one idea and tell them only this idea is acceptable, they cause tremendous pain to their passion,” he added

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]e assured the students that they were not alone and that this is happening in every university. “It is important that we carry this flag forward so that in future we bring a legislation that gives certain minimum rights to every single student.”

Earlier, activists of ABVP tried to stop Gandhi’s convoy when he reached Begumpet airport. Police arrested the protestors.

Students from Osmania University and other institutions, leaders of various Dalit and left groups also reached University of Hyderabad to show solidarity with students staging protest.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]R[/dropcap]aising slogans against central ministers Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya, the vice chancellor and ABVP, hundreds of students marched to the building where the central committee began its hearing.

Leaders of the JAC, teachers’ association and suspended students separately met the committee, seeking justice.

They demanded immediate arrest of Dattatreya, vice chancellor and others responsible for the suicide.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he committee also heard university authorities, especially members of the panels which conducted inquiry into the alleged clash between ABVP and the Ambedkar Students Association.

Earlier, activists of Telangana Jagruthi, the cultural wing of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana, staged a protest at Dattatreya’s house in Ramnagar here, demanding his resignation.

Police arrested dozens of protestors, who raised slogans against the minister, blaming his letter to Irani for suspension of the students.

TRS MP K. Kavitha had said on Monday that Dattatreya and Irani brought pressure on the university authorities.

Police on Monday had booked Dattatreya, vice chancellor and two leaders of ABVP for abetment of suicide and for violation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 67.65 Rupees.

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