Dalit scholar suicide: SC/ST Association of HCU holds 'protest day'

The members of the union have written to the President seeking the removal of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao and interim VC Vipin Srivastava.

Hyderabad: Joining the ongoing stir over the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, the SC/ST Employees Welfare Association of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Friday organised a 'protest day'.

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

Read: HCU suicide: Deal struck with students, says Interim VC

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 and seeking that in-charge VC Vipin Srivastava should step down from the post, a representative of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice said.

The JAC, under whose banner the agitation by the students is being led, said a candle light vigil would be organised on Friday, on the eve of the birthday of research scholar Rohith Vemula, who allegedly committed suicide in a hostel room on January 17.

A group of students are also slated to start an indefinite fast in support of their demands.

The JAC has called for mass hunger strike in universities across the country to express solidarity with the agitation on the HCU campus.

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, the JAC representative said.

The JAC's main demands includes bringing in a 'Rohith Act' to prevent any injustice to the students of marginalized 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 letter sent to the President was signed by 93 "concerned teachers" and they requested him to ask "Vice-Chancellor and the In-charge Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad (HCU) to step down" from their posts.

The agitating students, meanwhile, held a protest at the administrative block of the university today demanding that in-charge VC Vipin Srivastava to 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 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.

The in-charge VC had tried to hold talks with the agitating students at their protest site two days back, but returned empty-handed after they raised slogans against him.

Meanwhile, some research labs in the university were functioning today in view of the "urgent nature" of the ongoing projects, as per the JAC.

Recalling that Srivastava was allegedly involved in the suicide of a student Senthil Kumar in 2008, a spokesperson of the 'SC/ST Teachers Forum and Concerned Teachers' claimed that the interim Vice-Chancellor did not get a clean chit in the issue.

( Source : PTI )
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