Hyderabad, University of Hyderabad continues to simmer over Dalit research scholar’s suicide while Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the campus on Tuesday to show solidarity with protesting students and demanded action against a union minister and the VC.
On a day when a two member committee sent by union human resources development ministry began its probe amid massive protests, Gandhi 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.
The 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.
Gandhi, 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 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
He 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.
Raising 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.
The 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.