Protests Over Dalit Student’s Death Spread


Pune: Protests over the alleged suicide by a Dalit research scholar from Hyderabad Central University today spread to more cities including Pune and Gandhinagar with the incident described as an “institutional murder”.

As protests against the incident continued for the second day in Hyderabad and Delhi, the students of prestigious Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) in Pune sat on a day-long hunger strike outside the institute’s gate in “solidarity” with the protesting students in Hyderabad.

Protests were held by workers of Congress and Left parties in Chennai where members of the Scheduled Caste wing of TNCC led by K Selvaperunthagai tried to picket the Shastri Bhavan here, which houses a number of central government offices. About 65 Congress workers were detained, police said.

“We are in solidarity with students protesting the death of Rohit Vemula, and as many as eight students from the Film & Television Institute of  India have sat on hunger strike for a day,” FTII Students’ Association president Harishankar Nachimuthu said in Pune.

Another students’ body representative Yashaswi Mishra said, “We feel that the unfortunate incidents like death of Rohit Vemula is an institutional murder. The very ideology that led to this devastating tragedy has to be fought across.

“We condemn the government’s attempts to suppress and crush voices of disagreement,” he added.

In Gujarat, around 50 dalit students of Central University of Gujarat (CUG) held a peaceful protest in Gandhinagar.

The dalit students gathered near the entrance of the CUG this morning to condemn the alleged stern action of Hyderabad Central University, which according to them, led to the suicide of the PhD student Rohit Vemula.

Further, the protesters termed the suicide as an “institutional murder” and demanded free and fair inquiry into the matter.

According to a CUG student and human rights activist Jignesh Mewani, Dalit students including Vemula, were intentionally targeted by the university for being a ‘Dalit’ and having different ideology than of BJP and RSS.

The protesting students held banners with slogans such as “Punish the culprits behind this institutional murder”, “Fight this Casteism and Fascism”, “Shut down brahminical universities before we kill ourselves”.

“This situation is unacceptable in democracy. You cannot silence voices of dissent. The BJP government at the Centre must conduct a free and fair inquiry into the matter and punish the culprits,” added Mewani.

In Punjab, the activists of Punjab Ambedkar Sena Moolnivasi took out a protest march in Phagwara and burnt effigy of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani and demanded sacking of Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide.