A 28-year-old Dalit research scholar of the University of Hyderabad was found hanging at the central university’s hostel room inside the campus on Sunday, police said.
Rohith Vemula, a second-year PhD scholar from the science, technology and society studies department, and four others were suspended from the hostel last September following allegations that they attacked a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad after a screening of the controversial documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai.
Vemula, who belonged to Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, came from a poor background and held a scholarship under the University Grants Commission’s Junior Research Fellowship programme.
Earlier this month, the five students – all members of the Ambedkar Students Union – were thrown out of the hostel, denied access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and respective workshops, on the recommendation by an executive committee of the university.
The suspension of Rohith was revoked later. Further investigation in the case is on.
Students clashed with security personnel and authorities clamped prohibitory orders on Monday amid an outpouring of grief and rage on social media. They had demanded that a case under SC/ST atrocity act should be lodged against Union minister and BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya while alleging that he had written to HRD ministry seeking action against these research scholars.
Police have now charged Dattatreya with abetting the suicide of the Dalit scholar. Officials at Gachibowli police station said the labour minister was also booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act for allegedly orchestrating the suspension of Vemula and four other students from the university hostel.