'It's murder, not suicide': Here's what politicians, students said about Rohith Vemula's death

Fresh round of protests erupted on the campus of University of Hyderabad on Tuesday over Rohith Vemula's suicide in the hostel as members of a social outfit tried to hold a demonstration outside the residence of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Dattatreya has been accused in the suicide case.

On 30 January, Vemula would have turned 27 but Vemula hanged himself after he was suspended from the college after a political dispute.

On Tuesday, students gathered in the administrative block of the university and shouted slogans, seeking 'justice' for the dalit student. Police said the situation was peaceful.

Actors, journalists and politicians came out in support of the Vemula, who was active in student politics, but had grown increasingly silent after the disciplinary action was initiated against him by the university. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of various student groups said Rohith was highly depressed due to suspension and expulsion from the hostel.

On his Twitter handle, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that it wasn't a suicide but a murder.

Rohith Vemula. Image courtesy: Facebook

Rohith Vemula. Image courtesy: Facebook

Attacking the BJP-led government over the alleged suicide of a dalit scholar in Hyderabad, Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Tuesday charged that vice chancellors have been handpicked by the BJP-RSS and asked student wings to come together to fight the "communal forces".

"This is only a beginning. Vice-Chancellors have been handpicked by BJP-RSS. They would be interested to promote ABVP rather than Academics. All Student Wings must come together to fight communal forces on the Campus", the party general secretary said in a series of tweets.

He alleged that the suicide by Rohith Vemula reflected the mindset of the BJP against dalits.

"Dalit students were protesting against an abusive posting against dalit students on social media by a ABVP activist. Even after they were found not guilty by the Enquiry Committee...Partisan attitude of VC and Minister Bandaru Dattatreya led to expulsion of Dalit Students," Singh, who is in charge of party affairs in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, said.

Speaking to reporters on the University campus, Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao alleged that university Vice Chancellor Appa Rao was responsible for the suicide of the student, and demanded his suspension.

He further alleged that a "social boycott" was imposed on the students (who were suspended earlier), including the dalit research scholar who allegedly committed suicide.

Congress leaders D Sridhar Babu, G Vinod and others visited the university campus today and spoke to the students.
Reacting to the untimely end of Vemula, Congress spokesman R P N Singh on Monday had said, "An FIR has been registered against the Union Minister and the letter written by him prima facie amounts to abetment of suicide, Congress demands that Dattatreya resigns with immediate effect, failing which the Prime Minister should sack him." He also alleged that the suicide by the Dalit research scholar amid circumstances "deliberately orchestrated by Dattatreya, Union HRD Ministry and their cohorts of ABVP" is another manifestation of the "anti-Dalit agenda and mindset" of the government and its "controller"-RSS.

"Dalits are being discriminated in the University and the Vice Chancellor has been the main person behind the suicide of a dalit student. We demand that action should be taken against him and a CBI probe should be ordered into the incident," YSRT Congress leader Nalla Suryaprakash told PTI on Tuesday.

Accused Dattatreya had said on Monday, "Anti-social, anti-national activities were going on in the university. ABVP activists were beaten up. At that time ABVP gave a representation. I forwarded the representation to the Ministry (of HRD). I don't know what action they did. BJP or I have nothing to do with the incident..."

The issue took a political turn with allegations that the extreme action was a result of discrimination against dalit students at the behest of Dattatreya, who had written a letter to HRD Minister Smriti Irani, seeking action against their "anti-national acts".

Rohit Vemula was among the five research scholars who were suspended by the university in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on a student leader.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2016 15:44:08 IST

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