Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the University of Hyderabad on 19 January and said the university VC and ‘a minister in Delhi’ are responsible for making the conditions conducive for Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar, take the extreme step.
Just before Gandhi was to address students, one of them said, “Please do not politicise the issue. It is not Congress vs BJP, but fight for justice for Vemula.
Continuing, Gandhi said, “Vemula came (here) to improve the country, who came to learn, to express himself, but he was forced to take so much pain that he committed suicide,” said Gandhi.
“Students should express themselves freely in a campus, but that is missing here. When one tries to impose a certain idea on all students, he/she harms the very passion that students possess,” he added.
Referring to the students’ demand, Gandhi said Vemula’s family must be compensated, while those “responsible for his suicide be given strict punishment”.
Earlier, Gandhi visited Vemula’s mother, Radhika. He said vice chancellor Appa Rao, has shown neither “dignity or decency” in not visiting Vemula’s family, which he (Gandhi) pegged as ‘an insult to every student’.
Police had a tough time managing the students. The main gate to the campus was barricaded as students, activists of city universities poured into the UoH. Students demanded the university VC come to the protest spot, but the varsity administration has not yet addressed protestors.
Congress leaders said the party would try to bring justice to Vemula. “The plight of Dalit students on campuses should not be ignored. Rights of Dalits should be secured, come what may,” said Hanumantha Rao, Congress MP.