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Rohith Vemula suicide: Hyderabad varsity mulls changing interim V-C

Srivastava took charge as the interim V-C after Prof Appa Rao Podile went on indefinite leave on Sunday.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Sreenivas Janyala | New Delhi/hyderabad |
Updated: February 1, 2016 2:08:52 pm
rohith vemula, rohith vemula suicide, rohith suicide, india news, rohith vemula death Protests in Hyderabad. (Source: AP)

On a day the interim Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) Prof Vipin Srivastava appealed to protesting students to help restore normalcy on the campus, it is learnt that the varsity administration is mulling a change at the top in the face of unrelenting protests.

The university administration is actively considering a proposal to replace Srivastava with the next senior-most faculty member, who is from the Chemistry Department, to “at least open a channel of dialogue with the students”, a source in the university administration told The Indian Express.

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Srivastava took charge as the interim V-C after Prof Appa Rao Podile went on indefinite leave on Sunday. But his appointment drew immediate outrage from protesting students and teachers, as he was chairman of the committee that recommended suspension for the five Dalit students, including Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on January 17. The protesters also claimed that Srivastava had earlier faced allegations of harassing another Dalit student —Senthil Kumar, a research scholar in Physics Department who had committed suicide in 2008.

Watch video: Delhi Police’s brutality on protesting students outside RSS head quarters

“Right now, students on hunger strike are not even willing to speak to him (Srivastava). We are keen to break the impasse…Maybe the second senior-most professor could be brought in,” a senior faculty member privy to the proposal said.

Sources also said Podile may have to relent to the students’ demand for his resignation. “The HRD report, too, blames the university for mishandling the situation. His resignation is an option that is open, but it is the last resort,” the faculty member added.

Meanwhile, in his appeal to the protesters on Tuesday, Prof Srivastava said the university “deeply condoles the tragic and untimely death of our student Rohith Vemula”, and, following demands of the students, has revoked suspension of the other students and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 8 lakh to Vemula’s family. He pointed out that HCU has neither moved the court nor lodged a complaint against any student with any agency.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding committee of Indian Peoples Tribunal wound up a two-day visit to HCU on Tuesday. The team comprising Justice (Retd) Suresh H, Sujata Surepalli (editor, Desi Disa), U S Rao (chairman CBC Federation), Meena Menon (researcher) and senior advocate Gayatri Singh observed that documents available show the V-C had allowed his office to be played by the MHRD to advance their political agenda. It also said the proctoral board’s call to ban all associations on the basis of ideology, caste, religion reflects deep-rooted prejudice against politically active students.

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