A week after the Hyderabad central university remained shut over the suicide of a Dalit scholar, students are beginning to question why various student bodies are continuing their agitation in spite of a judicial probe being ordered into the matter.
Tuesday is the ninth consecutive day the campus remained in limbo, with all academic sessions and research activity at a standstill. Even the library and reading rooms remained closed.
The Joint Action Committee of the protesting students had organized a Chalo HCU march to the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on Monday where students from other universities, including from other cities, turned up to protest against the administration.
Rohith Vemula, along with four other Dalit scholars, was suspended for an altercation with the student leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), leading to his suicide on January 17. The fight was triggered by a comment on Facebook.
Several students are now taking to the very same medium to vent their anger, appealing to the Ambedkar Students’ Association that the Dalit scholars are a part of, to let academic studies continue.
“If you want to close reading room, library, schools, departments, labs for the sake of involving more and more students in protest… I would suggest that you should stop the basic needs of students like food, water, electric supply and extremely important thing i.e. internet, so that huge number of students would join this ongoing movement. Lock our rooms too so that we can also stay and sleep at the shop-com,” a sarcastic post on the UoH Facebook community page read, referring to the campus shopping complex that has turned into the nerve centre for protests.
On Monday evening, a poll was created on the unofficial but popular Facebook page asking how many students wanted the library reading room opened. Within the first few hours, as many as 55 students polled in favour of opening the reading room from Tuesday while just a meagre six wanted the controversy resolved first.
A senior professor, part of a failed truce effort made by about 100 members of the faculty to convince protesting students to allow the university to function, expressed displeasure over their adamant stand.
“Our effort was to engage the agitators in a dialogue for a resolution as we cannot let all students miss out on their studies and research. But we could not succeed as those on protest refused to talk and appealed to us to support them in their demands,” said the professor who approached the students on Friday.
“Now that it has been over a week, many are eager to resume their academic activity. My students were calling to know if I am available for guidance in their project works, etc,” said a professor from the school of social sciences.
With the academic year heading to its final semester, graduating students of courses like MBA, MCA and MTech fear the repercussions on placements.
University authorities expressed concern that the academic semester could be disrupted if it did not begin functioning soon.