Over 70 students were arrested after fresh protests erupted at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) campus on Wednesday. The students were demanding removal of Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao over the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula.
With the 'Chalo UoH' call given by the Joint Action Committee, several students belonging to the AISF, PDSU and SFI gathered at the campus and tried to enter the Vice-Chancellor’s lodge where a meeting of the university’s Academic Council was to be held.
The meeting was to discuss various confidence-building measures including the appointment of an ombudsman, an anti-discrimination officer and an Equal Opportunity Cell.
The situation turned violent after the protesters broke open the campus gates and raced towards the meeting venue. They were, however, stopped by the police who arrested over 70 students.
The campus has been on the boil ever since Rohith (26) ended his life on January 17 by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room. The agitating students have been demanding dismissal and prosecution of Appa Rao, holding him responsible for Rohith's suicide.
Though Rohith had not named anyone in the suicide note, the students alleged that caste discrimination forced him to take the extreme step. Rohith, along with four other Dalit students, had been suspended by the authorities following a scuffle with a leader of the ABVP, the student wing of the BJP.
After returning to normalcy, the university once again got mired in trouble when the VC returned on March 22 after his two-month long leave. Twenty-five students and two faculty members were arrested after the protesters vandalized the VC’s office on the day he resumed his duties.
In another key development, the Controller of Examination Professor V. Krishna resigned from the post expressing solidarity with the protesting students and walked out of the Academic Council meeting.
Meanwhile, the high court, while hearing a petition filed by senior Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao seeking transfer of the vice chancellor and sacking of Union Minister B. Dattatreya, observed that one cannot demand ouster of the VC based on an FIR and emotions. The bench wanted to know whether there was any rule under which the VC could be recalled.
The students have been demanding the enactment of the Rohith Act, removal of Appa Rao as VC and ending of the blockade in HCU and dropping of all cases against students and faculty.