Protest rocks Hyderabad varsity on Rohith suicide anniversary (Lead, Correcting para 12)

Hyderabad, Jan 17 (IANS) Protests rocked the University of Hyderabad on Tuesday as police stopped students and activists from entering the campus on the first anniversary of research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

Police arrested scores of protestors as they tried to defy the ban orders and enter the campus to pay tributes to Rohith and take part in a meeting.

Tension continued till late in the evening as police stopped Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula and others from entering the campus. The protestors were trying to hold a meeting at the main gate to raise their demands.

Activists of Aam Admi Party (AAP), Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Osmania University Joint Action Committee and other student groups were among those who gathered at the main gate.

Police erected barricades to stop outsiders from entering the campus.

There was pushing and jostling between police and protestors, leading to tension.

The students who had gathered for a meeting on the campus came in a rally to the gate, demanding the police to allow the protestors in.

Police had tough time in controlling the protests on both sides of the gate. At one stage, the protestors forced open the gate, leading to arrests.

The student groups lodged their protest over the use of force by police.

Vijay Kumar, one of the friends of Rohith, said the police were trying to suppress a peaceful gathering.

The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, an umbrella grouping of student bodies demanding justice for Rohith, was holding a meeting in the campus to mark ‘shahdath din’ (martyrdom day).

The organisers invited Jaan Mohammed, brother of Mohammed Akhlaq, who was lynched by a mob at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh over rumours of beef eating, Fathima Nafees, mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, suspended student and Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association leader Rahul Sonpimple.

The Registrar had ordered that outsiders including media persons cannot enter the campus.

The university made it clear that there was no permission to hold any programme on the campus. However, defying the orders, a group of students gathered at ‘Velivada’ (Dalit ghetto) on the campus.

Holding pictures of Rohith and placards, they raised slogans demanding the arrest of Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao and justice for Rohith.

Rohith Vemula, a PhD student, committed suicide by hanging himself in a hostel room on the campus in 2016 after alleged caste-based discrimination, triggering protests across India.

He resorted to the extreme step during a protest along with four other Dalit students over their suspension by the university following a clash with ABVP leader.

The Joint Action Committee is also seeking a legislation named after Rohith to curb caste-based discrimination on campuses.