Rohith Vemula suicide: Students of Hyderabad University attack VC Rao’s house

The attack happened after Prof Rao, who is accused by students of Ambedkar Students' Association of being responsible for the suicide of Rohith Vemula, arrived at the guesthouse in the campus and called a media conference.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 23, 2016 3:07 am
Students protest inside the V-C’s office on Tuesday. (Source: PTI) Students protest inside the V-C’s office on Tuesday. (Source: PTI)

Hyderabad Central University (HCU) Vice-Chancellor Prof P Appa Rao, who had gone on leave following protest by students in the aftermath of the suicide by Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula in January, resumed charge on Monday amid violent protests by a section of students.

As news spread in the morning that Rao had returned to resume charge, students representing the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JAC) ransacked the V-C’s residence on campus. They smashed doors and windowpanes, computers and electronic equipment, TV sets, furniture, flowerpots and photo frames.

Several students were arrested on charges of stone pelting and vandalism. Staff members who faced the ire of the students later disconnected electricity and water supply to some hostels and vowed not to serve food in the hostel mess hall.

The protesting students asked mediapersons to not cover the violence and allegedly manhandled a few TV reporters when they did not accede to their demand.

Share This Article
Share
Related Article

The police conducted mild lathicharge as the students threw stones at the police and media personnel, as well as at non-teaching staff assembled there. A few policemen were reported to be injured in the melee.

 

The university’s free WiFi facility has also been shut down after students gathered at the shopping complex late in the evening to discuss the course of action. Some student leaders have requested JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar to visit the campus on Wednesday. But officials said neither the university nor the police has given permission for any students’ meeting.

Prof Rao had gone on leave on January 24, a week after Vemula committed suicide. The ASA and JAC had blamed Rao and the university authorities’ decision to suspend Vemula and four other Dalit students, which, they alleged, eventually forced Vemula to take his own life.

Rao said he had returned to resume duties and did not expect the attack. “When some faculty members and staff said I should take precautions due to the students’ protests, I asked them to not worry because I believed the students would not resort to violence. I declined security. But what happened is unbelievable and shameful. It is a black day in the history of this university.

 

“Students with a certain ideology are doing these things. They are dictating who should, or should not, be the V-C.”

After Rao proceeded on leave, Prof Vipin Srivastava was appointed as the V-C in-charge but handed over charge to Prof M Perisamy in the face of fierce protests. “If any group of students can dictate who will be the vice-chancellor then no university will have a V-C. This will become a national issue,’’ Rao said.

Leaders of the protesting student said a case has been registered against Rao under SC/ST Atrocities Act following Vemula’s suicide and said he should not resume as V-C under the circumstances. “He is responsible for Rohith Vemula’s death. He should be arrested; instead, he is returning as V-C. We won’t allow it. We will fight tooth and nail,’’ student leader Venkatesh Chouhan said.

In a statement issued later in the day, Rao said that he himself opted for leave to reduce tension on the campus, among others. “Later, it was my decision to wait for the Judicial Commission and the police to collect information at ground level.”