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Thursday, January 21, 2016

University of Hyderabad boils over dalit scholar's suicide - India Times

TNN | Jan 19, 2016, 03.15 AM IST

HYDERABAD: University of Hyderabad turned into a battlefield on Monday as students protesting against the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula clashed with police as the death sparked huge outrage on campuses across the city.

Midnight vigil, lathi-charge by cops and sloganeering by students, marked the day as 200 Rapid Action Force personnel surrounded the varsity on Monday to douse simmering tension. As students under the aegis of Joint Action Committee for Social Justice went on an indefinite strike on Sunday, the 26-year-old research scholar's death at the NRS hostel left the varsity in shock.

In a six page suicide note, the scholar said: "I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write."

Madhapur ACP M Ramana Kumar told TOI that the suicide note purportedly written by the victim will be sent to the forensic lab for handwriting match examination. "A portion of the suicide note was struck off by the victim and he signed next to the struck off part, saying that it was he who has done it. Experts will also retrieve the struck off part of the note for investigation," the ACP said

As news of his death spread on Monday morning, a scuffle broke out between the police and the students, resulting in a lathicharge by the cops, who wanted to break the student barricades. Police in riot gear entered the hostel and shifted the body for autopsy.

However, students resorted to vandalism as they broke the glass of the ambulance which arrived to take the body. Tension prevailed throughout Monday as the police detained eight students.

The hospital completed the post-mortem by Monday afternoon and the Vemula family performed the last rites at Amberpet crematorium in the evening.

At Osmania General Hospital (OGH) mortuary seven civil liberties activists including Jaya Vindhyala and OU faculty G Vinod Kumar were taken into preventive custody by the Afzulgunj police when they came to console the family members of the victim.

Balladeer Gaddar was also picked up at the OGH and dropped back to his home. The students continued with their protests as they called Rohith's death an 'institutional murder'. "Rohith was a brilliant student as he had two national fellowships. The university's social boycott towards the expelled students forced Rohith to take such a drastic step," said Zuhail KP, president of the UoH students union.

As students raised slogan such as 'tera bhai mera bhai, Rohith bhai' (your brother, my brother, Rohith brother), 'if you call dalits anti-national, we are anti-national' at UoH, the deceased's mother Radhika Vemula, aunt Vasudha Vemula and younger sibling Raja Vemula grieved at the tent where Rohith was living for last two weeks. "I will live in this tent where my son was forced to live for two weeks until we get a clarification from the administration," Rohith's mother told TOI.

The family demanded vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile to give a clarification on why they were not informed about his expulsion. However, until Monday evening, the VC didn't make any appearance at the university to speak to the family.