Hyderabad University Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile on Sunday went on indefinite leave.
But, far from calming down the prevalent tense situation in the campus, his departure has sparked off new controversy as dalit faculty members alleged that the professor made interim charge too had “deep involvement” in the suicide of the dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and in the death of another student from the community.
Podile along with the BJP MP and minister in Narendra Modi cabinet, Bandaru Dattatreya have been named in the FIR on charges of abetment of suicide and under relevant sections of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in connection with Rohith’s case.
According to PTI news agency, the university put a notice on its website saying, “The Vice-Chancellor will be on leave. In the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, Vipin Srivastava, the senior most Professor, shall perform the duties of the Vice-Chancellor wef 24-01-2016.”
The news agency quoted Podile as saying that he was “advised to be little away from campus” to break the current “impasse” in the wake of student’s agitation.
“There is no pressure from anybody. It is my concern for my University. We want to resolve the issue now. There is an impasse now and to break that impasse we need to have some mechanism where I am advised to be little away from campus and somebody has to be there to be in command. We have a provision to ask a senior Professor to be in-charge and that’s what we have done,” he told PTI.
He said he will return to university after situation return to normalcy.
This hasn’t calmed the protesting SC/ST Faculty Forum and SC/ST Officers Forum as they expressed “shock” over the decision to appoint Srivastava as officiating Vice-Chancellor.
They alleged that Srivastava was one of the “accused” in the suicide of another Dalit student, Senthil, in 2008.
“We are shocked and dismayed at Dr Vipin Srivastava, assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University. Prof Srivastava has been accused in the suicide of a dalit student, Senthil, in 2008.
“More recently he headed the Executive Council Sub- Committee which has been responsible for the death of Rohith Vemula Chakravarti,” the Forums said in a joint statement.
They said they were disappointed because Podile was not dismissed from his role.