Vemula Suicide: Protesters Call Nationwide Strike

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Hyderabad: More than a week after the suicide of Hyderabad University research scholar Rohith Vemula, the protests are only intensifying. Students have called for a nationwide strike across all universities on Wednesday. As many as 27 central universities have extended their support for the strike.

The protest comes even as the interim Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad University Vipin Srivastava made a fresh appeal to students on Tuesday to restore normalcy on campus.

The second appeal from Srivastava came even as one of the seven students on hunger strike over the suicide was on Tuesday moved to the varsity’s health centre after his health deteriorated. His condition was later reported to be stable.

The Hyderabad police, meanwhile, foiled attempts to take out a ‘peace’ rally towards Tank Bund and took 54 protesting students in preventive custody. They were later let off. The students, under the banner of Osmania University JAC and University of Hyderabad JAC, assembled near the People’s Plaza as per their plan to take out a ‘peace’ rally towards Ambedkar statue at Tank Bund.

In the appeal put up on the varsity website, Srivastava said the University activities have come to a standstill due to continued blockade of academic and administrative facilities because of the agitation. This will lead to a delay in the completion of courses affecting the employment and higher education prospects of the students, he said.

“Besides, disbursement of fellowships, scholarships and salaries (especially class IV and contract employees) is getting delayed inordinately,” he said in the appeal. He mentioned that the HCU administration has taken two steps within its “realm” – withdrawal of punishment given to the students and an ex-gratia of Rs 8 lakh to the Vemula family.

Vemula and four other students, all from the dalit community, were suspended in 2015 by the varsity for allegedly attacking an ABVP leader. HCU has already revoked suspension of the four students, following uproar over Vemula’s suicide on January 17.

“The University reiterates its appeal to the students and requests the parents and public to bear with us while we make earnest efforts to restore the normalcy at the earliest,” the interim V-C further said.

Srivastava said he and the HCU fraternity deeply condole the “tragic and untimely” death of Rohith Vemula. He had appealed to the students to withdraw their hunger strike, saying the deadlock could be resolved only through dialogue and that the administration should be allowed to function.

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