Students ransacked the office of Hyderabad University vice-chancellor Appa Rao, accused of abetting Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide, hours after he returned to work from two-month-long leave, ANI reported on Tuesday.
Hundreds of students protested on campus and broke into Rao’s office and lodge, damaging office furniture and breaking equipment, the news agency said.
Rao is accused of abetting Vemula’s suicide by suspending him and four other students from the university hostel for allegedly beating up an ABVP leader. Vemula killed himself on January 17 after days of alleged caste discrimination and ostracizing on campus.
Students allege Rao didn’t follow procedure and targeted Vemula and others – all of whom were members of the Ambedkar Students Association – after Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote a controversial letter, describing the campus as a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.
Soon after, the five students were thrown out of the hostel amid allegations they were denied access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and respective workshops, on recommendation by an executive committee of the university.
Vemula’s suicide sparked a spontaneous outpouring of grief and rage across the nation and a debate on caste discrimination in campuses. Thousands of students have taken out protest marches demanding government action against the vice-chancellor and the enactment of an act against casteism in educational institutions.