Hyderabad varsity students stage protest over panel report

Hyderabad: Students at University of Hyderabad (UoH) on Friday staged a protest against the report of Justice Ashok Kumar Rupanwala Commission, terming it an attempt to shield two Union ministers and the Vice Chancellor in Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide case.

Students under the banner ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ took out a rally on the campus, raised slogans against Narendra Modi government and burnt effigy of the commission.

They also raised slogans against Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya.

The protest was held a day after the commission’s report carried in a section of media exonerated the two ministers and Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile. The commission also reportedly concluded that Rohith was not a Dalit.

The commission was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development to probe the events leading to Rohith’s suicide.

Rohith (26), one of the five Dalit students expelled from hostel following fracas with a student leader of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), committed suicide by hanging on the campus on January 17.

Four students who were suspended along with Rohith termed the report “atrocious” as it ignored the discrimination and humiliation suffered by Rohith and his mother Radhika Vemula for being Dalits.

They termed the report as an attempt to save the two ministers, the vice chancellor and other accused from FIR registered against them under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The students argued that the commission crossed its mandate to go into the caste of Rohith, noting only the district magistrate is the appropriate authority to inquire into the caste. They pointed out that the magistrate had ruled that Rohith was Dalit and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes had affirmed his stand.

They alleged that commission stooped to the level of personally attacking Rohith’s mother Radhika. “The purpose is very clear. She had challenged the Brahminical dictum and instead of remaining oppressed choose the path of B. R. Ambedkar and embraced Buddhism,” the students said in a statement.

The students also took strong exception to the commission justifying the action of the Vice Chancellor in suspending them and reaching to the reported conclusion that there was no political pressure.

They claimed that the decision of Appa Rao to not to allow them in hostel, administrative building and common places and barring them from participation in student union elections, was taken with an intent to harm them and to display his loyalty and allegiance to ABVP, BJP and RSS.