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Hyderabad students set nationwide university strike for Wednesday

The agitation at Hyderabad University over the January 17 suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula could spread across the country, with students rejecting the appointment of Vipin Srivastava as interim Vice-Chancellor and calling for a nationwide university strike on January 27.

By TT Bureau in Hyderabad
  • Published 25.01.16
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Hyderabad, Jan 25 (PTI): The agitation at Hyderabad University over the January 17 suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula could spread across the country, with students rejecting the appointment of Vipin Srivastava as interim Vice-Chancellor and calling for a nationwide university strike on January 27.

With students from different universities converging here to pledge support to the agitation, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) said a bandh would also be called in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh if their demands are not met.

The students are demanding ouster of Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao, who has proceeded on leave, and enactment of a legislation called “Rohit Act” aimed at preventing suicide of university students belonging to scheduled castes, backward classes and minorities.

”We are discussing with JACs of other universities to form a nation-wide JAC to take forward the agitation until justice is delivered to Rohit. The JAC also calls for a strike in Universities across the country on January 27,” a spokesperson of JAC for Social Justice (HCU) said.

Srivastava 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.

”We have been telling them for the last three days not to go on hunger strike. The main problem at this time is, today is 25th of January, students' scholarships, fellowships... There is a procedure to be followed. Somebody has to sign the cheques”, Srivastava told PTI here.

The students and SC/ST faculty and officers forums had objected to the choice of Srivastava to perform the duties of the VC, alleging that he headed the Executive Council Sub-Committee “which has been responsible for the death of Rohit” and was one of the “accused” in the suicide of another Dalit student Senthil Kumar in 2008.

However, Srivastava said the reasons behind the student taking his own life in 2008 were not clear. “He was going through pre-PhD course work and for reasons which are still not clear, he committed suicide,” he added.

Students from institutions such as Pondicherry University, Andhra University, IIT Bombay, Osmania University, Maulana Azad National Urdu University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences converged on the campus on Monday pledging support.

According to HCU chief security officer TV Rao, over a thousand students and others have come in from different parts of the country.