Hyderabad: High tension prevailed in University of Hyderabad campus on Sunday evening following the death of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula. Scores of students gathered at the NRS hostel, where Rohith was found hanging, and started an protest.
When a team of police officials came to spot to shift the body for autopsy, the students did not allow them inside. The agitators damaged an ambulance, which was called by the police, eyewitnesses said.
A security official, who tried to persuade the students, was roughed up by the crowd, the witness said. The protestors said that they would not allow the police to shift the body until vice-chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile came out to talk to them.
“The VC has been hiding for many days. He and his aides are the reason for this death,” one of the agitators alleged.
The students also demanded that the police book a case against Prof. Podile.
No university official is said to have visited the hostel so far. The body remained in the lobby of the hostel till last reports came in.
Madhapur police officials said that the situation was under control. “No violent incidents have been reported so far,” said a senior police official.
Don’t trouble anybody, says suicide note
“I am alone responsible for my death. Nobody instigated me to commit suicide. Please don’t trouble anybody in the name of my death,” Rohith Vemula wrote in his suicide note.
The five-page suicide note indicated he was extremely disappointed about the recent past. He stated that the money from his fellowship should be given to his family.
It started with Yakub hanging
The suspension of five Dalit students, which reportedly resulted in the suicide of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula, actually started with the hanging of Yakub Memon last year for the Mumbai blasts.
Students owing allegiance to the Ambedkar Students Association had protested the hanging on university campus.
ABVP student alleges assault
An argument ensued between ASA students and activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Following this, ABVP activist N. Susheel Kumar posted a comment on Facebook in August first week last year calling ASA students “goons.” Kumar later alleged that around 30 ASA members beat him up in his hostel room around midnight.
Board clears ASA activists
A Proctorial Board inquired into the incident and, on August 12, 2015, came out with a report that there was no medical evidence or to prove that Kumar was harmed by the ASA activists. The board recommended letting the ASA youth off with a strong warning.
Board changes its stand
A few days later, the Proctorial Board came out with another decision saying that the ASA activists were guilty of manhandling and causing harm to Kumar and decided to suspend four dalit research scholars belonging to the ASA for an entire semester.
The four students were Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on Sunday, P. Vijay, Dontha Prashanth and C. Sheshu and V. Sunkanna. Sukanna was to be treated as a security threat as he was not a bonafide student of the university.
The students had then alleged that the board had changed its decision due to the intervention of BJP Legislative Council member N. Ramachandra Rao.
Temporary relief only
After protests by ASA students the then in charge vice-chancellor, Prof R.P. Sharma, ordered another inquiry committee to be set up and revoked the suspension of four Dalit scholars.
Panel decides to punish students
After Prof Sharma retired and Prof. Appa Rao Podile took over as vice-chancellor, the Executive Council meeting in its meeting in December decided to suspend the students from the hostel. The new inquiry committee reasoned that the older judgement of the Proctorial Board cannot be questioned because it is a statutory body.
Students take matter to HC
ASA students had gone to court against the judgement and the hearing is on January 18. The students and their associates have been holding daily protests in the university.
Letter from Dattatreya
It came to light in January that on August 17, Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the BJP MP from Secunderabad, had written to Union human resource minister Smriti Irani saying the UoH has become a den of “casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.”
In the same letter, he wrote that the UoH administration had become a mute spectator to Susheel Kumar getting beaten up. Activists have alleged that UoH took a hardline after this letter.
Rohith had told V-C: Give poison
One week before his death, Rohith Vemula had reportedly written to University of Hydera-bad Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile asking him to give the protesting students poison instead of humiliating them.
According to a close friend of Rohith, the letter was written to the vice-chancellor to prove his innocence in the case of alleged assault of an ABVP activist last year.
“Give us a bottle of poison instead of humiliating us without any reason,” Rohith had reportedly written to the vice-chancellor.
He wrote that the order suspending the students cannot be justified since the allegations made against him and other four students were baseless, according to his friend.
He also wrote to the vice-chancellor requesting him to allow him and other students continue their studies peacefully.
Rohith wanted to become a science writer
Gachibowli police officials said they received an alert from the University security officials after 6 pm. A police team rushed to the NRS hostel room, where the body was found hanging.
In the suicide note, Rohith wrote: “I wanted to become a scientist and a science writer. But, this is my last piece of writing.” He continued the long letter mentioning about the humiliation and alienation he faced in his academic life. He stated that he could not take it anymore and nobody could understand his devastation....