Vemula suicide: SC/ST forum members to start hunger strike in HCU

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The SC/ST Teachers Forum will go on a hunger strike from 28 January demanding the resignation of VC P Appa Rao and interim VC Prof Vipin Srivastava so that the campus can function, according to the forum in a notice to the HCU Registrar.

Also, a joint committee of student plans to mark Vemula’s birthday on January 30 with a Chalo Delhi protest.

The students marched to Srivastava’s residence and burnt his effigy at the campus. Later, Srivastava visited the site to initiate a dialogue, but was forced to go back.

Srivastava’s selection as interim VC was opposed by the students and SC/ST staff forums as they claimed he headed the executive council sub-committee whose decisions were “responsible for Vemula’s suicide”. He also was the cause for the death of another Dalit student.

Students of most AP and Telangana universities boycotted classes in solidarity with the agitators. Six of the seven HCU students, on an hunger strike to protest Vemula’s suicide, have been shifted to a health centre, said Ravindra Kumar, CMO.

Around 150 protesters from various universities across Delhi were arrested for deciding to go on an indefinite hunger strike at Parliament Street police station in New Delhi.

Members of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan and All India Students’ Association (AISA) were among the protesters.

“Protesting is our right. Each time we seek HRD minister Smriti Irani’s resignation, we are arrested. Why?” asked JNU Students Union vice president Shehla Rashid Shora.

Sucheta De, national president, AISA said, “We will sit on hunger strike at the Parliament Street police station’s premises till our demands are met.” On 27 January , three JNU students sat an indefinite hunger strike.

At the same time, Vemula Naga Manikumar, father of Rohith Vemula, a research scholar, who committed suicide, has demanded the government order an inquiry by a sitting judge into his death. Manikumar said that his son did not commit suicide but he was murdered. It is the government’s duty to conduct a judicial inquiry into the matter.

Contrary to claims of caste bias behind the suicide, he appealed to politicians not to play caste politics with the varsities. Kumar said, “Why didn’t politicians visit Rohith when he staged a stir? Everyone turns up only after his suicide.”

Also, 60 students were arrested in Chennai for seeking the resignation of Union HRD minister Smriti Irani and Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicides of Vemula and the three medical students in Tamil Nadu, stated NDTV.