Ex-HC judge to probe Dalit student suicide, teachers on hunger strike

Ex-HC judge to probe Dalit student suicide, teachers on hunger strike

A former Allahabad High Court judge Ashok Kumar Roopanwal was appointed by the Centre to probe circumstances leading to suicide of dalit scholar of Hyderabad Central University(HCU) even as its teachers went on a hunger strike today backing the protesting students.

The appointment of the judge to head the one-man Judicial Commission was announced at a time when the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice spearheading the agitation over Rohith Vemula's suicide on January 17 said that students would intensify the "struggle" till all their demands are met.

Senior Union Human Resources Development(HRD) ministry officials said in Delhi that Justice (retd) Roopanwal will review the entire sequence of events, the circumstances and to establish facts and correctives in the context of the incident in an university.

The Commission has been asked to submit its report within 3 months, it is learnt.
Earlier, a Fact Finding Committee constituted by the HRD Ministry had submitted its report on the events in the University after which it was decided that Judicial Commission will be set up to look into the matter.

In Hyderabad, three teachers of the HCU sat on a one-day hunger strike demanding that Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile be removed and in-charge VC Vipin Srivastava step down, in order to resume academic and administrative activities.

The protest by teachers came a day after a second batch of students on an indefinite fast demanding justice for Vemula were shifted to hospital following concerns over their health condition.

A teacher from the Osmania University also joined the protesting teachers in the fast on HCU campus under the banner of SC/ST Teachers' Forum and other concerned teachers.

Earlier, a group of seven students had also been taken to hospital following their deteriorating health condition. The agitating students yesterday refused to hold talks with Srivastava, who came to the protest site.

They alleged that Srivastava was equally responsible for the "wrong affairs" and demanded that he step down from the responsibility of interim VC.

The demands of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice include Podile's resignation, and also Srivastava's from the post of in-charge VC, "sacking" of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, employment to a family member of Rohith and Rs 50 lakh compensation to his family.

The selection of Srivastava as interim VC was earlier opposed by the students and SC/ST staff forums as they claimed he headed the Executive Council sub-committee whose decisions were "responsible for the death of Rohith" and that he was one of the accused in the death of another Dalit student in 2008.

Students of most universities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana yesterday boycotted classes in solidarity with the agitators as they sought "justice" for Rohith.

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