The Telangana Police on Tuesday detained several people, including journalists, gathered at the University of Hyderabad campus to mark the first death anniversary of Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar who had committed suicide. Till 5.30 pm, 17 people were detained, including Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula who was scheduled to speak at an event on campus, reported Hindustan Times.
Earlier on Tuesday, the police took Frontline reporter Kunal Shankar into custody after university authorities reportedly lodged a complaint against him for trespassing. The police questioned Shankar for an hour and then released him, reported The Hindu. Although Madhapur Assistant Commissioner of Police M Ramana Kumar said a case had been registered against Shankar, the journalist told the newspaper that the police had neither showed him the complaint, nor handed him a copy of the FIR.
Officers also came down heavily on protesters and journalists in other parts of the country for commemorating Rohith Vemula’s death anniversary. In Delhi, two journalists were allegedly thrashed by the police during a protest march organised by the All India Students Association. “Even though I kept shouting that I’m a journalist, the cops dragged me to the police van, kicking me at the same time. They also dragged my female colleague to the bus,” journalist Saptaparno Ghosh told The Indian Express.
The AISA has said that Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union President Mohit was roughed up and activist Umar Khalid was detained during the rally. “Hundreds of paramilitary forces were deployed at Mandi House to unleash violence on those who participated in Insaaf March in Delhi,” AISA said in a statement. In Kolkata, protesters faced similar violence.
Students have begun a cultural protest at the main gate of the university. They said they would not move from the spot till all those taken into custody were released unconditionally.
Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar at the Hyderabad university, had committed suicide on January 17, 2016, accusing the administration of caste-based discrimination. Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile was named in the FIR filed in the case along with Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya.
Days before he killed himself, Rohith Vemula was suspended from the university along with five other students for allegedly assaulting an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader. University students held protests for days seeking Podile’s resignation after his death.