Hyderabad: The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, University of Hyderabad has planned a huge rally “Chalo HCU — Justice for Rohith Vemula,” comprising students from Central Universities across the country on Jan. 25. The rally is part of JAC’s decision to intensify students’ agitation to pile pressure on the Centre to accept their five-point charter of demands, mainly removal of Prof Appa Rao from UoH vice-chancellor’s post and punish culprits booked under SC/ST Atrocities Act including Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya.
The JAC leaders said students from all Central Universities and several state universities have extended their support to ‘Chalo HCU’ and promised to take part in large numbers demanding justice for Rohith Vemula. They said students from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana and a few other states expressed their rage and solidarity to the students’ movement for social justice.
“We condemn the arrest of protesting students in Dr B.R. Ambedkar Central University, Lucknow,” at Prime Minister Modi’s meeting on January 22. Students across the country rose in protest over UoH Dalit scholar’s suicide and burnt effigies of UMHRD, BJP and RSS and resolved to fight unitedly against communalisation of academic institutions,” the JAC leaders said.
JAC leaders said the rally was planned to impress upon the Centre their demands namely, punish Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, vice-chancellor Appa Rao, chief proctor Alok Pandey, ABVP student leader Susheel Kumar and BJP MLA N. Ramachandra Rao, removal of Appa Rao from vice-chancellor’s post, employment to a family member of Rohit and compensation of Rs 50 lakh to his family, dropping of false police cases against five Dalit scholars and revocation of the suspension of Dalit scholars.
University of Hyderabad security officials shifted the seven students on hunger strike to a hospital, their condition worsened on Saturday. They had gone on a fast on January 20 after the suicide of Rohith Vemula. Dr Kiran Verma, emergency consultant at Continental Hospital said, “The students were severely dehydrated and had to be stabilised. Their blood samples were collected and accordingly treatment will be initiated.” The five other students were G. Prabhakar, Uma Maheshwar, K.P. Manojan, Vaikhari Aryat and K. Krishnayya were taken to the university health centre.
Dr Ravindra Kumar, a senior doctor who resigned as chief medical officer of the university, said, “They have been on hunger strike for the last four days. There was a rapid deterioration in their medical status. We found that their blood pressure levels were fluctuating and sugar levels were unstable.”
Protests at the university reached a tipping point when security officials reached the tent where seven students were on fast. The students protested vehemently at being taken away to hospital and demanded that vice-chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile resign first.
Before being forcibly taken to the health care centre, Prabhakar said, “We want to continue our fast and do not care for our health. Our demands are not yet fulfilled. People who caused Rohith Vemula’s death should be punished immediately,” he said.
Telangana government finally moves on suicide:
The Telangana government which had remained silent on Rohith Vemula’s suicide finally responded on Saturday. It asked the Ranga Reddy district administration to conduct an independent inquiry and submit a report to government. The district administration directed Serilingampally tehsildar (MRO), under whose jurisdiction the UoH in Gachibowli falls, to inquire into the incident. Serilingampally MRO Srinivas Reddy said he would soon begin the inquiry by visiting the university and submit the report in two to three days.
“The inquiry is to ascertain the facts and reasons that led to the suicide of Ph.D scholar Rohith Vemula on the campus. We will meet students, faculty members, non-teaching staff and all others concerned and inquire into the incident. The allegations of discrimination against Dalit students on the campus would also be inquired into,” Mr Reddy said.
The TS government came under fire from UoH Students JAC, Dalit organisations and Opposition parties for being silent on Rohith’s suicide for the past one week. There has been no official response from the government side. The decision to conduct an independent inquiry by the state government was taken following a suggestion by the law department, which anticipated legal problems in future for the Telangana government, if anyone approaches courts over the student’s suicide issue.
The law department was of the opinion that since UoH is located in Hyderabad, the TS government would also be made party to cases on UoH and it would be better if the government conducts its own inquiry and keeps ready a report on this issue....