Dalit row: Teachers on a hunger strike, demand interim VC’s resignation

  • Hindustan Times, HT Correspondent
  • Updated: Jan 28, 2016 17:07 IST
Students march towards the office of India's education minister during a protest. (AP)

Tension gripped the University of Hyderabad on Thursday as a section of students staged a demonstration seeking resumption of classes even as four teachers launched a relay hunger strike seeking the vice-chancellor’s resignation over the suicide by a Dalit scholar.

The sharp division among the student community came into sharp focus on the 11th day of suspension of classes at the university following the suicide by Rohith Vemula, 26, an incident which has sparked a furore over alleged caste bias on campuses in the country and led to a political battle between opposition parties and the ruling BJP.

Shouting slogans and holding placards, the students of life sciences department staged a demonstration at the university close to where other students are on protest demanding the resignation of VC Appa Rao, who went on along leave few days ago.

The students were shouting slogans like “We want classes” and “Politics hatao campus bachao” (End politics, save the campus).

Attempts to conduct some classes in the Life Sciences department met with resistance from the protesting students.

A majority of those who staged the protest demanding classes are said to be from the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is in the centre of the storm. Rohith and four other scholars were suspended for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) spearheading the agitation against the VC alleged that interim vice-chancellor Vipin Srivastava had provoked the some students to hold such demonstration to create a rift among the community.

The counter-protests came shortly after four teachers drawn from two universities of the city launched a relay hunger strike.

Three of the teachers are from the University of Hyderabad while the other is from the Osmania University.

“The hunger strike is by both SC/ST Teachers’ Forum and concerned teachers,” Joby Joseph, one of the fasting teachers said. “Our demands are simple. The vice-chancellor should step down and the interim VC should also resign from the post as he was part of the decision to suspend Dalit students,” he said.

Attempts to conduct some classes in the Life Sciences department met with resistance from the protesting students.

The JAC has said that students would intensify the struggle till all their demands are met.


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