The Hyderabad police booked a case of abetment of suicide against Union Minister B. Dattatreya and vice-chancellor of University of Hyderabad (UoH) P. Appa Rao following the suicide by a dalit research scholar V. Rohith on the campus on Sunday.
Rohith (26) was one of the five dalit scholars expelled by the University of Hyderabad in December last year following a clash with a rival student group. He committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in the hostel room.
The death sent shock waves across the state with Dalit organisations, especially student groups and political parties demanding stringent action against the university authorities, who they say are responsible for the tragedy.
Rohit, a native of Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, was a member of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies for the past two years. He was among the five Dalit students living in a tent pitched in the campus for the last few days as a mark of protest against the university authorities’ decision.
The student organisations alleged that Dattatreya’s letter to his cabinet colleague and HRD Minister Smrithi Irani, seeking disciplinary action against the Dalit students, had led to their expulsion. The Union Labour Minister had dubbed the members of ASA as "casteist, extremist and anti-national".
Following a complaint by the students, a case under IPC section 306 (abetment to suicide) has been booked against the Union minister, vice-chancellor and two ABVP leaders Sushilo Kumar and Vishnu.
Meanwhile, the HRD minister has sent a two-member team of officials to the university to probe the incident.
There was tension when police tried to shift the body to the hospital for autopsy. The students put up stiff resistance, demanding justice for the Rohith's family.
Trouble started on the campus following a tiff between members of ASA and ABVP, a student organisation of the BJP, over a documentary film on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. Later, a scuffle broke out over some students organising a protest against hanging of Yakoob Memon.
As per the Ambedkar’s Students Union’s press release, the “social boycott” of Dalit students had begun after Dattatrya’s intervention.
However, the university authorities denied selective action and declared that the students were expelled based on the decision taken by a sub-committee of the Executive Council.
The expelled students, all members of the Ambedkar Students Union, were allegedly denied access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and respective workshops, on recommendation by an executive committee of the university. Since then, they were protesting against what they called “undemocratic social boycott” and were sleeping in a makeshift tent on the campus. They also laid siege to the administrative building in protest.
Meanwhile, Rohith’s mother Radhika sat on a dharna on the campus along with several students and Dalit organisation leaders, demanding that the vice-chancellor explain the reasons behind suspending her son.