Shouting slogans against the “institutional killing” of Rohith Vemula and the “high-handedness” of the BJP government at the Centre, thousands of students and teachers from various universities marched from Ambedkar Bhawan to Jantar Mantar here on Tuesday.
Rohith, a research scholar of University of Hyderabad, had committed suicide on January 17, after he was suspended with other Dalit students in September 2015, following a clash with a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
The protesters also demanded the release of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested on charges of sedition. The father of Umar Khalid, the JNU student wanted by police, shared the dais at Jantar Mantar, where Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also put in an appearance.
As protesters passed Gole Market, schoolchildren and passers-by cheered. The marchers spoke on a range of issues during the protest.
Apart from Rahul Gandhi, politicians like D Raja, Brinda Karat and Arvind Kejriwal also joined the rally. Rohith’s mother was also joined the protesters.
Demanding laws to ensure that college and university students don’t face discrimination on campus, Rahul accused the BJP-led government for “crushing” the voice of the youth. “Rohit Vemula was a symbol of India’s future and his voice was crushed and buried. This is happening in universities across the country and students’ voices are being muted,’’ he said.
Khalid, wanted by police for questioning in a sedition case, stayed put at the JNU campus. His father shared the dais with student leaders. “Khalid’s father joined the march today because he felt empathy with Rohith’s mother. Like Rohith’s family, his family is also being targeted. He is branded as the father of an anti-national. He came today to register his protest against the witch-hunting which is going on these days,’’ said Mohit, a JNU student and an activist of the All India Students Association (AISA).