Hyderabad: As the suicide by Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar at Hyderabad Central University (HCU), snowballed into a major political issue, Vice Chancellor prof Appa Rao has maintained that there was no pressure from any union minister to take action against the Dalit student and his friends.
Rohith was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in the New Research Scholars' Hostel late on Sunday. He was one of the five Dalit students suspended from the university and expelled from the hostel and was staging a protest on the campus for the past 15 days.
Speaking exclusively to 'NDTV', the Vice Chancellor said Rohith's suicide was a big shock for him and it took some time for him to digest the fact. Rao dismissed the allegations that he took action against the students because of pressure from Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and HRD Ministry.
On the issue of five letters sent by HRD Ministry, Rao said the University treated the letters as regular ones and the decision to suspend the students was taken after consultation with Dean student's welfare and other senior faculty members.
Giving his side of the story, Rao asserted that mother of Susheel Kumar, who was allegedly beaten up by other students, had filed a case in the High Court. The Court in return had several times asked the University about what decision had it taken on the complaint. We initially tried to delay the issue, but were forced to take a decision as court was asking for a response.
Various political parties and leaders have blamed Labour Minister Dattatreya's letter of Aug 17 last year to Smriti Irani seeking action against the "anti-national activities" of a students union and the alleged assault of an ABVP leader and a series of five communications from the HRD Ministry between Sept 3 and Nov 19 demanding follow up action for the suicide.
The HRD ministry, however, rejected allegations that it had put any pressure on the University relating to either suspension of Rohith or keeping him out of the hostel.
Rohit and his friends were members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA).