Rohith Vemula issue comes back to haunt Hyderabad University: Students protest after V-C Appa Rao returns to duty

Students ransacked the office of Hyderabad University vice-chancellor Appa Rao on Tuesday, hours after he returned to work from two-month-long leave following the suicide of Rohith Vemula.

Vemula killed himself on 17 January after days of alleged caste discrimination and ostracism on campus.

Rao is accused of abetting Vemula’s suicide by suspending him and four other students from the university hostel for allegedly beating up an ABVP leader, reports Hindustan Times.

The protests began in the morning when a section of students while raising slogans against the Vice Chancellor, barged into his residence (VC's lodge), broke window panes, smashed doors and television among other items, protesting against his resumption of duty.

Police soon brought the situation under control.

Professor Podile was in a meeting with some deans and members of the executive committee in the lodge when the students struck.

Later, a group of students continued their protest by squatting outside Podile's residence.
"Police had to resort to caning after repeated requests to the agitating students failed to get positive response. Students also indulged in stone-pelting, injuring four police personnel," a police official said.

According to him, police were requesting the students since afternoon but they were "adamant" and did not pay heed to disperse from the place.

Podile termed the vandalisation incident as the "black day" for University of Hyderabad. "I was having a meeting with some deans and members of the executive committee on how to handle things in University. Meanwhile, a group of students came, (they) banged the doors, ransacked the office and resorted to violence of the magnitude which we have never seen in university. This is the black day for the University of Hyderabad," he said.

Meanwhile, the agitating students claimed that vandalisation was carried out by the members of the ABVP to tarnish the image of students on protest and to divert the entire issue. Some members belonging to ABVP later gathered at VC's lodge to prevent the protesters from entering the house.

When asked about the proposed visit of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar to HCU tomorrow, the VC said, "I have not given any permission for the meeting. There was no letter (requesting permission for meeting) from anyone on this. I will have to discuss with police and my colleagues then only I can comment."

A large number of police personnel were deployed near the VC's lodge as tension prevailed on the campus.

One student suffered injuries to his arm as the students broke the glass panes of V-C's lodge on the university campus, minutes before he was to brief press persons about resuming the office, reports The Hindu. Angry students targeted journalists and they raised slogans against Rao.

Meanwhile, a senior police official said that pickets will be set up on the campus near hostels to prevent any untoward incidents.

"We will also provide security to the VC as he sought protection. Prohibitory orders are in place and it will in force until normalcy returns," said DCP (crime) B Navin Kumar. Another police official said that ten protesters who
allegedly indulged in stone pelting were taken into custody and inquiry in underway to identify those indulged in vandalism.

D Prashant, one of the five students suspended by the varsity earlier, said, "At the behest of (Union minister) Venkaiah Naidu, he (VC) came to UoH (University of Hyderabad, also called as HCU). At the behest of Central Government he occupied VC's seat despite the fact that the whole university resisted," Prashant said.

Students have also called for a boycott of classes to protest Rao's return, reports Catch News.

Another student said that they wanted the VC to not come to campus. "We lost Rohith Vemula. He (Prof. Appa Rao Podile) is one of the culprits. It's almost over two months since the incident occurred but no action has been initiated," he said.

However, the VC struck an aggressive note, saying the handful of students cannot dictate who should be the Vice Chancellor.

"This is going to be a national problem not just in University of Hyderabad. Tomorrow, any hundred or fifty students can say this particular Vice Chancellor should be there," he added.

After Vemula's suicide, Cyberabad police had registered a case against Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Podile and three others.

"The matter is in the court. Judicial Commission is there (probing Vemula suicide incident). Let the report come. Why are they ransacking the office? This we cannot tolerate. We are going to seek the help of local police," Podile told reporters.

The VC also asked the media to desist from sensationalising the issue.

JUNSU president Kanhaiya Kumar is also scheduled to visit the university on Wednesday.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2016 21:07:58 IST