Protests over dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide intensified on Wednesday with Osmania University’s Joint Action Committee calling for ‘Chalo CM Camp office’ on 29 January and Congress party’s MP Hanumantha Rao also joining the agitation in Hyderabad.
Amongst the other developments, the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Teachers’ Forum of the University of Hyderabad said its members would go on a hunger strike demanding the resignation of Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao, now on leave, and Incumbent V-C Vipin Srivastav to resume administration.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University protested against HRD Ministry.
And in Tamil Nadu, 50 people were detained when students protested in connection with Rohith Vemula’s case in Villupuram.
In Hyderabad, the protests outside the University of Hyderabad were quite strong. Due to protests, traffic was stalled for some time as long queues of vehicles were seen.
The protests seem to gain strength with Congress party’s MP Hanumantha Rao taking up a vow to remain silent as a mark of protest. He and several other people with him tied a black cloth on their mouths.
A few days, HRD Minister Smrit Irani had that apart from BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya, Hanumantha Rao too had written letters to her ministry over issues related to the University of Hyderabad.
“Bandaru Dattatreya ji was not the only MP who expressed concern on Hyderabad University, Congress MP Hanumantha Rao also wrote. The letter from Congress MP Hanumantha Rao shows that such incidents were happening in past for years as well,” IRani had said.
“If Congress had fixed it back then, possibly Rohith would have been alive today,” she had said, trying to deflect the issue to the main opposition party at the Centre.
But soon after Irani said that at a press conference in New Delhi, Hanumantha Rao countered her. “I wrote a letter to Smriti Irani ji on different issue — regarding students issue and corruption,” he said.
Rohith hung himself on 17 January with a blur flag of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), a students’ outfit which has been fighting for dalit rights on the campus. Rohith was an ASA member.
Even before his suicide, dalit students of had been sitting on protest just outside the university campus. Some students continue to sit there, under a makeshift tent.