Police arrested Rohith Vemula’s mother and a few students as protest rocked University of Hyderabad on Tuesday on the first death anniversary of the Dalit research scholar. Students staging demonstration in New Delhi were also detained by the police.
Radhika Vemula was arrested late in the evening soon after she addressed protesting students outside the main gate of the university as she was denied entry into the campus.
Tension prevailed at the main gate as police took Radhika and a few students into custody amid strong protest by dozens of pro-Rohith students.
During her speech, Radhika said she was facing a threat to her life from the central government. She alleged that during the last one year she and her other family members were harassed on false charges that they are not Dalits.
Earlier, police arrested scores of protestors as they tried to defy the ban orders and enter the campus to pay tributes to Rohith and take part in a meeting.
Activists of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Osmania University Joint Action Committee and other student groups were among those who gathered at the main gate.
Police erected barricades to stop outsiders from entering the campus.
Vijay Kumar, one of the friends of Rohith, said the police were trying to suppress a peaceful gathering.
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, an umbrella grouping of student bodies demanding justice for Rohith, was holding a meeting in the campus to mark ‘shahdath din’ (martyrdom day).
The organisers invited Jaan Mohammed, brother of Mohammed Akhlaq, who was lynched by a mob at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh over rumours of beef eating, Fathima Nafees, mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, suspended student and Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association leader Rahul Sonpimple.
The university had made it clear that there was no permission to hold any programme on the campus. However, defying the orders, a group of students gathered at ‘Velivada’ (Dalit ghetto) on the campus.
Holding pictures of Rohith and placards, they raised slogans demanding the arrest of vice chancellor P. Appa Rao and justice for Rohith.
Rohith Vemula, a PhD student, committed suicide by hanging himself in a hostel room on the campus in 2016 after alleged caste-based discrimination, triggering protests across India.
He resorted to the extreme step during a protest along with four other Dalit students over their suspension by the university following a clash with ABVP leader.
The Joint Action Committee is also seeking a legislation named after Rohith to curb caste-based discrimination on campuses.
About 250-300 students staging a demonstration to mark his death anniversary were detained when they blocked the crucial Janpath road in Connaught Place area of New Delhi.
Following a protest call from JNU Students’ Union, around 1,000 students from the JNU, Delhi University, and the Jamia Milia Islamia, among other universities, took out a rally from Mandi House, intending to go to Ministry of Human Resource Department (MHRD), only to be faced with elaborate barricading at Janpath.
The police corralled the students at the red light near Janpath Metro Station and ferried them in three buses to Parliament Street Police Station.