Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi rejoined protesting students at the
University of Hyderabad on Saturday, barely hours after the interim vice-chancellor went on leave overnight in a new twist to the controversy over the suicide by a Dalit scholar.
It was the second visit to the university by the Congress leader following the death of research scholar Rohith Vemula, which has sparked anger across the country over the alleged caste bias prevalent on campuses.
Prior to the arrival of Gandhi, the university announced that Vipin Srivastava who took charge as the interim vice-chancellor has proceeded on leave from Friday afternoon.
“Dr Vipin Srivastava who took charge as the interim vice-chancellor of Hyderabad Central University has proceeded for leave from the afternoon of January 29 and the next senior most professor Dr M Pariasamy will perform the duties of the V-C till further orders,” a university official said.
The reasons behind his leave are not immediately clear, the official said. Srivastava could not be contacted for comments.
He was appointed as the interim VC on January 24 after V-C Appa Rao Podile went on leave amid calls for his sacking.
Gandhi sat on hunger strike for two-and-half hours in the wee hours on Saturday as the opposition party mounted pressure on the Centre to take action against Rao as well as Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, who are accused of putting pressure on the university to suspend five students including Rohith.
Gandhi arrived at the campus around midnight in the midst of intense slogan-shouting by the protesting students. He, however, intervened and told them not to shout “murdabad”.
“Let us not say murdabad to somebody. That will not do justice,” he said.
Three of the students including two research scholars who were earlier suspended, sat on fast unto death demanding sacking and arresting of Appa Rao and dropping of Irani and Dattatreya from the Union cabinet.
Meanwhile, the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) called for a bandh of colleges in Telangana in protest against the “politics over dead bodies” by Rahul Gandhi.
“ABVP strongly opposes the politicisation being done by Rahul Gandhi in Central University at a time when peaceful atmosphere is returning in the university,” ABVP national executive member Kadiam Raju said in a statement.
Gandhi should stop the “politics over dead bodies” and help restore normalcy in the HCU, he said.