The agitation over the suicide of a Dalit research scholar in Hyderabad appeared to be heading towards a confrontation tonight, with police preparing to evacuate seven students on hunger strike on the central university campus.
Official sources confirmed that Cyberabad Police have received instructions to depute “a sizeable contingent” to the university so that the evacuation of the fasting students could be done “without any untoward incident”.
The seven students — Gummadi Prabhakar, G Umamaheshwara Rao, V Aryat, K P Manoj, T Rames, Konidala Jairam, and K Krishnaiah — were earlier examined by doctors who expressed concern at their dipping blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
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Anticipating police action, the Students Joint Action Committee, which is leading the protest at the university following the suicide of Rohith Vemula on Sunday, has asked volunteers to form a protective ring around the fasting students.
Fearing that police in riot gear may move into the university “any time”, the JAC also asked hostel students and volunteers to sleep at the protest venue overnight.
The late-night development came after the JAC rejected all appeals and offers of negotiations from the university earlier in the day – the fifth day of the stalemate. Late on Friday, the university also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 8 lakh to the bereaved family of Rohith, an offer that was immediately rejected by JAC.
The JAC maintained that the university’s circular “terminating” the suspension of the five Dalit students, including Vemula, for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader last year was “not acceptable”. They also demanded that Vice-Chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile resign and surrender to police.
On Friday, the students also met five faculty members and narrated the sequence of events that led to Rohith’s suicide. “We request you to think rationally and apply some reason and decide if what has happened is fair or unfair,” said JAC convenor Venkatesh Chauhan.