Dalit scholar’s suicide: FTII students protest in solidarity

Pune, Jan. 19 (ANI): The students of the prestigious FTII began a one-day hunger strike here on Tuesday to express solidarity with their colleagues of the Hyderabad University amid the ongoing protests over the suicide of a Dalit scholar.

The students of the University of Hyderabad, where Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula committed suicide after his expulsion, continued their protest in the varsity premises demanding action against Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya and ABVP leader Sushil Kumar.

The agitators also demanded a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh for Vemula’s family.

Dattatreya has been charged with abetting the suicide of the Dalit scholar. He has also been booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act following allegations that he orchestrated the suspension of Vermula and four other Dalit students from the University hostel.

The police has also registered a case for abetment of suicide against University of Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and two ABVP leaders Sushil Kumar and Vishnu.

The Centre has formed a two-member probe committee as the incident triggered protests in Hyderabad and the national capital yesterday.

Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani had yesterday refused any intervention by the government in the suicide of the Dalit scholar as several groups demonstrated outside her ministry to vent their ire over the incident.

Vermula, a second-year research scholar from the Science, Technology and Society Studies Department, and others were suspended from the hostel last year following allegations that they attacked Sushil Kumar after a screening of the controversial documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’.

Earlier this month, 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.

The 28-year-old hailing from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district was found hanging at a friend’s hostel room around 7: 30 p.m. on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is set to meet the protesting students in the University of Hyderabad today. (ANI)

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