Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar said on Wednesday that the government had blown up the sedition controversy surrounding JNU students to divert people’s attention from Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the events that followed. "The government smartly an made issue out of JNU to keep Rohit Vemula's case under the carpet," he said, adding that he decided to visit Hyderabad on behalf of JNU as soon as he was released from jail. At the University of Hyderabad, Kumar also said that Vemula’s mother was like the mother of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh today and that the varsity’s Joint Action Committee for Social Justice will continue with its struggle till the Centre passes the Rohith Act, PTI reported. He was invited to address a campus meeting on Wednesday evening, but was reportedly denied permission. The committee is leading an agitation demanding justice for Vemula, who committed suicide on January 17.
Ahead of Kumar’s visit, the police commissioner of Hyderabad issued prohibitory orders on the the entry of outsiders, including mediapersons, in the university, NDTV reported. Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile told PTI that the university had not granted the student leader permission to address students on campus.
Earlier in the day, Hyderabad Police arrested 27 people, including two faculty members, for vandalising Podile’s office and official residence on Tuesday. Students had protested violently when he resumed charge, two months after he went on leave following Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Another 100 were booked after Tuesday's protests, and around 750 non-teaching staff members have refused to perform their duties after police resorted to lathi-charging the protesters. Moreover, classes have been suspended at the university till March 27.Kumar was at the centre of massive protests when he was charged with sedition following an event at JNU critiquing the hanging of Parliament attacks convict Afzal Guru. On March 2, the Delhi High Court granted him interim bail for six months.
On Tuesday, the Hyderabad Police had forcibly removed protesting students from Podile’s guesthouse after they damaged equipment and furniture. Podile was forced to go on leave after he was accused of discriminating against Vemula. The PhD scholar committed suicide on January 17, after he and four other students were suspended for allegedly abusing an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad member. Union ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani have also been criticised for their alleged roles in the events that led to his suicide.