HYDERABAD: University of Hyderabad (UoH) authorities on Tuesday blocked student groups from holding events on campus in memory of Dalit student Rohith Vemula who committed suicide this day last year.
Massed security personnel held off student groups who planned to conduct a protest programme, titled Rohith Vemula Shahadat Din, at the spot where the research scholar staged a protest against caste discrimination before he took his own life.
Among the people who gathered at the gates to participate in the commemorative event were the family members of Rohith Vemula and Fatima Nafees, mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed.
Earlier in the day there was mild tension at the gates as students attempted to break through. As many as 17 UoH students who tried to march out of campus in an attempt to hold the scheduled programme at the university entrance were taken into preventive custody by the Gachibowli police. However, they managed to open the gates and hunkered down there.
In the afternoon, a Frontline magazine correspondent Kunal Shankar was detained by the police. The university maintained that no outsiders would be allowed to enter the campus anc cited orders issued by the Hyderabad High Court. Police have reportedly registered a case of trespass against the Frontline correspondent.
Speaking at the Rohith Shadat Din event in the evening, Rohith Vemula’s brother Raja said, "Even today they are not allowing me to see Rohith's stupa inside the university. The police are saying they will arrest me if I go inside.”
Among the participats was Jaan Mohammad, brother Mohammed Akhlaq, who was lynched by a right wing mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh for stocking beef in his refrigerator. Jaan Mohammed said his brother was falsely accused of consuming beef. “We don’t even slaughter a chicken in our house. Some anti-social elements planted beef in our fridge. It was a scandal.”
Dontha Prashant, an Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) leader and one of the scholars who faced disciplinary action along with Rohith Vemula, said: "When I went to meet Radhika Amma in the morning, she was in a lot of pain. She said they killed my son, now they are after me. She said they are pushing me towards a state of resignation. Today, her words are a reminder that if we don't stand with her we will be responsible for losing another Rohith."
Another of the speakers at the event was Rahul, who was a participant in the protests at JNU last year. He likened JNU to a village where lower caste students are discriminated against. “We examined data on marks awarded to students in viva voce examinations. We found that Dalit students don't get beyond 10-15 marks.” He added that the JNU authorities suspended students who questioned the discrimination.
Further, he explained that it has not been mentioned till when they were suspended. "Rohith left this world opening our eyes. Regarding atrocities, we wanted the campus to thunder with voices of resistance. Modi, I want to tell you that outside RSS office in Nagpur, Hindutva extremist dharmashatra will be burnt," he thundered.