Protesting against the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, students from the University of Hyderabad launched another hunger strike on Sunday, demanding the removal of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and compensation of Rs 50 lakh for Vemula's family. On Saturday, police put an end to a hunger strike launched by seven students and admitted them to a hospital as their condition deteriorated, PTI reported. The students vowed to continue their protest until their demands are met.
Leader of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and grandson of Dalit crusader BR Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar on Sunday demanded that Podile and Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya be booked for abetment of suicide. "A central university is an autonomous body, and the Human Resource Development minister had no right to control it. By repeatedly writing letters to the vice-chancellor to initiate action against five Dalit scholars, Irani had clearly exceeded her brief," he said.
Earlier, Vemula's mother Radhika had said she would not immerse her son’s ashes till Podile resigned. His family also rejected the Rs 8 lakh ex gratia payment the university offered to them, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “late reaction” to his suicide.
Radhika Vemula demanded an explanation for why her son was expelled from the hostel and forced to “sleep in the open for two weeks”. “He [the vice-chancellor] must be arrested for the wrong he has done,” she said before a crowd of protestors. She also condemned discussions over Vemula’s caste, saying no such questions were brought up when the December 16 gangrape victim died.
Speaking to The Hindu, Podile said he was not the vice-chancellor when the decision to expel the five Dalit students, including Vemula, was taken. Their expulsion is believed to be what pushed Vemula to commit suicide. He also claimed that the university has yet to respond to the letters from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which highlighted the government’s interference in the matter.