HCU:Academic activities slowly get back on track amid protests

HCU:Academic activities slowly get back on track amid protests
For the first time after more than a week of turmoil over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, academic activities today resumed in the Hyderabad Central University even as protests by students in support of their demands, continued.

Academic and administrative activities had come to a stand-still in HCU from January 18, a day after Rohith's suicide, with agitating students spearheading protests seeking justice for him.

"All the departments, schools and centres are open today, and classes were conducted in some of the departments. Research labs are almost open," HCU Registrar M Sudhakar said.

Joining the ongoing stir by agitating students, the SC/ST Employees Welfare Association of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) today organised a 'protest day'.

The 'SC/ST Teachers Forum and Concerned Teachers' this morning also continued their relay hunger strike, which they had started yesterday.

The members of the Forum have written to President Pranab Mukherjee, visitor of the university, regarding their demand for removal of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, who has gone on indefinite leave, and seeking that acting VC Vipin Srivastava should step down from the post, a representative of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice said.

The letter was signed by 93 "concerned teachers". Recalling that Srivastava was allegedly involved in the suicide of a student Senthil Kumar in 2008, a Forum spokesperson claimed that the interim Vice Chancellor did not get a clean chit in the issue.

A group of students are also slated to start an indefinite fast in support of their demands today. The JAC has called for mass hunger strike in universities across the country to express solidarity with the agitation on the HCU campus. Agitating students today also began a campaign of sending post-cards to the President to highlight the issue.

Two batches of students had earlier held indefinite fast at the protest site in HCU. However, they were shifted to hospitals following concerns over their health condition.

The JAC plans to undertake a visit to Delhi in the first week of February to meet the President to press for their demands, their representative said.

The JAC's main demands include bringing in a 'Rohith Act' to prevent any injustice to the students of marginalised sections in university, and forming a committee to look into the issues of alleged caste and academic biases in the varsities in the last 20 years in the country.

The agitating students, meanwhile, held a protest at the administrative block of the university today demanding that Srivastava step down.

Several members of the non-teaching staff told Srivastava, who came to the building, that they were not able to work due to closure of offices and were returning home after coming to the university everyday.

The non-teaching staff said that they want to attend to their regular work, and that certain demands of the protesting students, like removal of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, were beyond the purview of the VC.

Srivastava, who went back from the administrative building following protest by the students, told the non-teaching staff that he would make efforts to resume office work soon, as per the non-teaching employees.
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