Hyderabad: Just before sunset, students at the Hyderabad university where Rohith Vemula hanged himself chanted "Go back, go back" at two officers sent by the Human Resources Development Ministry to investigate the death. Barely two hours later, BJP spokesperson Prakash Reddy was forced to rush away from the campus by angry students, who came close to vandalising his car.
Students through the day at Hyderabad Central University have said they don't want the tragic death of Mr Vemula to be used for political mileage. Yet, different parties have said they are deputing members to visit the students. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited Mr Vemula's mother today before addressing the student sit-in. The 45-year-old politician said Education Minister Smriti Irani and the Vice chancellor of the university, Appa Rao, must be held accountable for Mr Vemula's death.
The campus anger against Ms Irani's ministry is based on five letters sent in a matter of about seven weeks, urging the Vice Chancellor to respond to allegations made by union minister Bandaru Dattatreya that members of Dalit students' association had, last year, assaulted the leader of the ABVP, the BJP's student wing. Mr Vemula was among the five students who were suspended for that assault (after an initial inquiry declared them innocent). As punishment, Mr Vemula and the others were told they could not access the library, cafe, or hostel.
Ms Irani's ministry has said that rules oblige the department to follow up urgently on a complaint by an MP by forwarding it to the institution concerned
"According to the procedure, if there is a VIP reference, it has to be acknowledged in 15 days and another 15 days may be taken to reply to it. Since no response was coming from the University, the Ministry had to send reminders," HRD Ministry spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel said.