The genesis of current student protests, Hyderabad Central University, is back under focus with the Vice Chancellor resuming charge after almost two months of leave following Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s suicide on the campus after his diktats of rustication on the campus.
A group of enraged students this morning entered the official residence of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile, and ransacked the furniture and protested his return. The after-effect was that the press conference scheduled at 11.30 AM was cancelled unilaterally and the it was just announced on the website that the VC has taken charge. The students demanded the VC be arrested and charged with for abetment of suicide by Rohith Vemula.
"Our primary demand is that the VC should not come…we lost Rohith Vemula. He (VC) is one of the culprits… It’s almost over two months since the incident occurred but no action has been initiated," said one student on a TV channel.
Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula had committed suicide on January 17 at a hostel room in the HCU campus after the administration rusticated him and other students after he came under pressure from the Union Education minister Smriti Irani and another minister Bandaru Dattatreya from Telangana. While both minister refuse any intervention, Dalit students all over the country were upset with BJP policies targeting the Dalits.
The student unrest since January 17 snowballed into JNU when student union president Kanhaiya Kumar was taken away and charged with shockingly serious sedition clause by Delhi Police on February 9. Soon the unrest spread to Jadavpur University where students reiterated similar slogans and the VC refused to let police enter the campus, unlike JNU or HCU which allowed police to enter and arrest student leaders.
The HCU incident and Kanhaiya’s arrest point to a major shift in Indian education system with ABVP virtually entrenched in central universities and the BJP ministers providing them sanction to carry out colonial period’s divide and rule principle. Very often, the controversies in all central universities had a beginning with the local rivalry between student groups. However, they take ugly turn when ministers and the Union government intervenes with the concurrence of Vice Chancellors.
Smriti Irani has already directed all central university Vice Chancellors to display national flags on the campuses, while it was reported in some media outlets that the minister had asked ABVP students to monitor and report regularly to the party headquarters on any non-compliant decisions made by VCs. In another meeting with the VCs, the minister asked them to perform or face sacking.[category, education, politics]