Dalit scholar issue: Protests escalate at Hyderabad University

Dalit scholar issue:  Protests escalate at Hyderabad University

Protests escalated today at the Hyderabad Central University with several students from other universities and some social groups coming out in support of the agitating students over the alleged suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula.

The protesters coverged at the campus, responding to the 'Chalo HCU" call by the Joint Action Committee spearheading the stir.

"Students and others have come in from different parts of the country. There are more than a thousand gathered here. Situation is under control," HCU chief security officer TV Rao said.

Security was beefed up with a large number of police personnel being deployed around the campus as a precautionary measure.

Joint Commissioner of Police Cyberabad T V Shashidhar Reddy said, "We are verifying all those who are entering the HCU campus. There is no such restriction on the 'Chalo HCU' programme."

Earlier, some students and their supporters had complained that the police were not allowing them to enter the campus.

Their demands include outster of Vice Chancellor P Appa Rao, who has proceeded on leave, and passing a "Rohith Act" to prevent suicide of ST, SC, BC and minority students in universities, the protesting students said.

The students and SC/ST faculty and officers forums had objected to the choice of Vipin Srivastava, the senior- most Professor, to perform the duties of the Vice Chancellor alleging that he headed the Executive Council Sub-Committee "which has been responsible for the death of Rohith" and was one of the "accused" in the suicide of another Dalit student.

Meanwhile, B R Ambedkar's grand-son Prakash Ambedkar visited the campus and interacted with the students, whose agitation has received strong support from parties other than BJP and several top leaders including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi were on the campus last week.

The students who gathered on the campus included those from Calicut University in Kerala, Pondicherry University, Osmania University and Maulana Azad National Urdu University.

As part of 'Chalo-HCU' programme, the agitating students marched from HCU shopping complex area, the hub of the protest, to the main gate and administrative building and back.

The indefinite fast launched by a fresh batch of seven students over suicide of Rohith continued in the HCU for the second day. 

The hunger fast was also resumed on the campus yesterday after the previous batch of seven fasting students were shifted to the hospital on Saturday after their health deteriorated.

A health check will be conducted on the fasting students today, Dr Ravindra Kumar, said a senior doctor at the health centre in the University.

Meanwhile, Rohith's mother Radhika was admitted to a private hospital yesterday after she complained of chest pain, Kumar said, adding, she has been kept under observation in the ICU.

The university had on Sunday put a notice on its website saying the Vice Chancellor will be on leave and that Vipin Srivastava, the senior-most Professor, shall perform the duties of the Vice Chancellor. It did not mention the period of leave.

However, the SC/ST Faculty Forum and SC/ST Officers Forum expressed shock over the decision to appoint Srivastava as officiating VC and alleged that he headed the Executive Council Sub-Committee "which has been responsible for the death of Rohith" and was one of the "accused" in the suicide of another Dalit student, Senthil, in 2008.  

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