At Rohith Vemula’s University, Twin Reasons Set A Campus On Edge

The Hyderabad campus where Dalit student Rohith Vemula hung himself in January is on edge today. Students targeted the office of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, who returned to work after weeks – he had proceeded on leave in the midst of the furious protests that followed Mr Vemula’s death. Students who asked not to be named blamed the “dictatorship of the union government” in allowing Mr Rao to resume his duties.

When Mr Vemula killed himself at his hostel, a note left by him said he did not blame anyone for his decision. But a month before that, a despairing letter sent by him to the Vice Chancellor about caste discrimination said Dalit students should be given “a rope to hang themselves”.

Mr Vemula’s death has been blamed by his family, a section of students, and the opposition on the vice-chancellors, Union Mminister Bandarau Dattatreya and Union Education Minister Smriti Irani, who have been accused of hounding Mr Vemula and his friends based on a complaint filed by student leaders affiliated to the BJP who study at the same university. The government has denied that Mr Vemula and others were persecuted as a result.