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First Rahul, now Kejriwal to visit Hyderabad University amid protests

india Updated: Jan 20, 2016 10:40 IST

Students shout slogans against VC during a protest over 26-year-old research scholar Rohith Vemula's death, at HCU Campus in Hyderabad on Tuesday.(PTI)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is set to visit the University of Hyderabad on Thursday to meet the students after the suicide of the Dalit scholar who was expelled from the university following a tussle with students affiliated with the student wing of the BJP, Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Over 300 supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi unit and its student wing, Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti, besides party leader Ashutosh and MLAs Sandeep Kumar and Rakhi Birla, gathered at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday to demand the resignation and arrest of union minister Bandaru Dattatreya . AAP also demanded that Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s role in the matter should also be investigated.

Read more: All you need to know about the Dalit scholar suicide row

Rohith, a second-year research scholar of Science, Technology and Society Studies Department, and others were suspended from the hostel last year following allegations that they attacked Sushil Kumar after the screening of a controversial documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’.

Earlier this month, five students were thrown out of the hostel after they accused the university authorities of denying them access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and workshops. The 28-year-old victim from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district was found hanging at the hostel room of one of his friends around 7:30p.m. on Sunday.

Meanwhile, protests escalated in Hyderabad and cities across the country including in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. On Wednesday fresh protests rocked the Hyderabad Central University as several politicians headed to the city including YSR Congress leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri.

A group of students carrying placards and raising slogans protested in the tense University campus on Wednesday morning.

Read more: Dalit student’s suicide: Is Modi losing touch with the youth?

The suicide by the dalit student Rohith Veluma has snowballed into a major issue with BJP’s rivals wading into it and demanding the removal of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, accusing them of being responsible for the death.

Rahul Gandhi had on Tuesday led the multi-party charge attacking the government and the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, saying, “The VC and the Union Ministers in Delhi have not acted fairly. This youngster was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.”

Though he did not name Irani, who had just over the week attacked Rahul in his constituency Amethi of failing youths there, the reference was obvious to her against the backdrop of ministry’s action which is blamed for the suicide by the dalit research scholar on Sunday night.

Various political parties and leaders have blamed Labour Minister Dattatreya’s letter of Aug 17 last year to Irani seeking action against the “anti national activities” of a students union and the alleged assault of an ABVP leader and a series of five communications from the HRD Ministry between Sept 3 and Nov 19 demanding follow up action for the suicide.

The HRD ministry, however, has rejected allegations that it had put any pressure on the University relating to either suspension of Rohith or keeping him out of the hostel.

The communications, it maintained, was not aimed at putting pressure but was in compliance with the standard protocol adopted in accordance with the Central Secretariat Manual of Procedure whenever a “VIP Reference” is received.