Alleging "delay in justice" to Hyderabad University research scholar, 150 protesting students from varsities across Delhi who were detained earlier on Thursday decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike at Parliament Street police station here.
According to police, due to security concerns, around 150 students were detained from outside Shastri Bhawan and taken to Parliament Street police station.
"Every time we try to go to the Ministry and raise our demands with HRD Minister Smriti Irani, we are held back and detained by police. Protesting is a basic right. We can't be denied that at a time when the government is trying to cover up an 'institutional murder'," JNU Students Union vice president Shehla Rashid Shora said.
Members of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) and Left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) were among the protesters.
Sucheta De, national president, AISA said, "We will not budge from the premises of the Parliament Street police station now and sit on an indefinite hunger strike here till our demands are met."
"We are protesting the delay in justice to the student who had to end his life due to the harassment by the institution," she said and asked "who will be held accountable for similar such suicides in varsities across country which go unreported?
The protests over the issue have been rocking the national capital since last week with three JNU students sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since Sunday.
26-year-old Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at Hyderabad Central University's hostel room on January 17.
He was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on an ABVP student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel. The suspension was revoked later.
Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor were named in an FIR over the death of the scholar, which triggered massive protests and demands for their removal from their posts.
The issue also took a political turn with allegations that the extreme action was a result of discrimination against Dalit students after Dattatreya had written a letter to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani seeking action against their "anti-national acts".
In a bid to defuse the raging controversy, the Centre had last week decided to set up a judicial commission to go into the suicide, and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 8 lakh to his family but protests continued.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence and expressed grief over the death of Vemula, students are demanding the removal of Irani and Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor.
Meanwhile, the seventh student who was on a hunger strike at HCU was also shifted from the protest camp to health centre after his health deteriorated, said Dr. Ravindra Kumar who examined him.
All India Joint Action Committee for Social Justice in a statement said it registered its protest by "shutting down" several universities across the country as part of the nationwide strike.
Students in Mumbai University and their counterparts in Tata Institute of Social Sciences and TIFR boycotted classes and joined the protests in Borivali and Kalyan in Thane.
Students of Delhi University and JNU observed bandh and those from the Central University of Kerala in Kasargod gheraoed its registrar and set up a local JAC for social justice, the statement said. Similarly, students in Calicut University went on a strike and took out a march.
In Telangana, students in Satavahana University in Karimnagar, Kakatiya University in Warangal, Telangana University in Nizamabad, MG University in Nalgonda went on a strike.
In Hyderabad, students in Osmania University, MANUU, JNTU, and Pottisriramulu Telugu University and several other varsities went on strike in solidarity with students' stir in HCU.
The AIJAC said the protests will intensify in coming days till its demands are met.
AIJAC is demanding arrest of all named in the FIR in connection with Rohith's suicide, besides resignation of the Vice-Chancellor and interim VC and sacking of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. It also wants introduction of "Rohith Act".
"We demand immediate resignation of Vipin Srivastava from the post of interim Vice-Chancellor. We reiterate that we will continue with the university strike and hunger strike till Srivastava steps down," the release said.