Hyderabad: Protests over suicide of a Dalit research scholar continued unabated on Thursday at the University of Hyderabad, with the teachers slamming union minister Smriti Irani's statement that a Dalit headed the committee which expelled five students.
Angry over the human resource development minister's statement made on Wednesday, the teachers from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes threatened to quit their administrative posts. Both the teachers and students picked many holes in the minister's statement and described it as "misleading" and "far from truth".
Students, continuing their indefinite protest, including hunger strike by seven of them, burnt effigy of Irani to condemn her remarks. SC/ST teachers and officers' forum came down heavily on her for the claim that a Dalit headed the sub-committee of the sub-committee of executive council, which suspended five Dalit research scholars in November last.
Thrown out of their hostel and facing "social boycott" on the campus, the five students were on protest at a makeshift tent in the campus for 15 days. One of them, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide on January 17. The forum pointed out that it was Vipin Srivastava, professor of physics, who headed the six-member committee and not a Dalit as claimed by Irani.
Only one Dalit was part of the panel and that too as a co-opted member, who has no decision making power, said the forum. Professor P. Prakash Babu, dean, students' welfare, was co-opted member. Babu heads the SC/ST forum.
The minister told a news conference on Wednesday that the warden of the hostel from where the students were expelled was also a Dalit. To this the forum said the warden enjoys no power to expel any student and he merely implemented an order given by his superior.
With students continuing their protests on the campus, the university remained shut for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday. Politicians and leaders of various people's organisations continue to pour in to express solidarity with the protesting students.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are scheduled to visit the university on Thursday.