STUDENT GROUPS at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have intensified their protest after the alleged suicide of Rohith Vemula, a second-year Dalit research scholar from Hyderabad Central University (HCU).
Calling the 28-year-old Vemula’s death as an ‘institutional murder’, over 300 students boycotted their classes, fieldwork and other academic activities on the campus in protest.
Vemula, who was pursuing his PhD in science, technology and society studies from HCU had committed suicide on Sunday night. A supporter of Ambedkar Students’ Association, Vemula and four others Dalit researchers were suspended from the university hostel after a tiff with ABVP workers. Post their suspension, the five students had been sleeping in the open in protest.
“Rohith Vemula did not commit suicide, he was murdered by the university authorities, ABVP leaders and this system. Our demand is that the culprits should be brought to book. I extend my solidarity to the HUC joint action committee and also urge other student communities to join the movement seeking justice for Vemula,” said a PhD student from TISS.
Another TISS student said, “The five expelled Dalit students were constantly being harassed by university administration and ABVP leaders… This brings to the fore the malicious and casteist role played by the Hindutva brigade led by the ABVP and the BJP member of legislative council (MLC) Ramachandra Rao who termed the ‘Dalits’ as ‘anti-national’, as well as the complicity of the HCU administration through their inept handling of the situation. We demand justice.”
“Vemula came from a poor background and held a scholarship under the University Grants Commission’s Junior Research Fellowship programme. The students have gathered to express their solidarity for Vemula,” Prof PK Shahjan, dean, student affairs, TISS said.
TISS students along with other student unions across the country are already up in arms against the decision of Hyderabad varsity of expelling the five students in September.
TISS students also organised a candlelight march in support of the expelled research scholars.
Meanwhile, students of Mumbai University have also planned to hold a protest on Tuesday.