The close to a fortnight-long agitation by the students across universities in the country got a further boost when All India Congress Committee vice-president Rahul Gandhi arrived on the University of Hyderabad campus for the second time in 12 days to express solidarity with the protesting students.
Clad in a blue jeans and T-shirt, Mr. Gandhi along with Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika, offered floral tributes at a makeshift memorial where a candlelight vigil was observed to mark Rohith’s birthday. Later, he sat down with the protesting students.
Mr. Gandhi took a regular flight to reach Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad and arrived at the varsity at 12.45 a.m. by road. > He had rushed to the university on January 18 , a day after > Rohith committed suicide to join the protest demonstration demanding action against all those responsible for his death.
The students are demanding that the university’s acting Vice Chancellor Prof Vipin Srivastava and Vice-Chancellor P. > Appa Rao quit their posts for their complicity in the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula. The JAC had on Thursday announced that a candlelight vigil will be held on Friday late night after which there will be indefinite mass hunger strike by several students.
Elaborate arrangements were made at the protest site, shopping complex (shopcom), including erection of large tents. The agitating students were eagerly waiting for Mr. Gandhi’s arrival as initially he was expected to be at the venue by 9.30 pm. An Ambedkar Students Association representative told The Hindu that Mr. Gandhi’s presence would be a morale booster for the student’s agitation that would be extended to various universities in the country and also the National Capital.
The ABVP called for a bandh of educational institutions in the city on Saturday protesting against Mr. Gandhi’s bid to politicise the unfortunate suicide of research scholar, said ABVP State Secretary Niranjan.
Security blanket thrown
Amid the sudden visit of the VIP, security blanket has been thrown over the guest house of UoH here at Gachibowli. The Special Protection Group teams had already arrived and camped at the guest house for security sanitisation. Another team of SPG led by a senior officer has been positioned at RGIA Shamshabad. Cyberabad police have rushed additional forces to the UoH on learning that Mr. Gandhi would be taking part in the candle light rally being organized on the university campus marking the birthday of Rohith Vemula. Sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squads searched nook and corner of the guest house. The Cyberabad police said that no outsiders and strangers will be allowed into the guest house as long as Mr. Gandhi stays there.
Several special police teams, rope parties along with fire tenders were deployed at the dais on the campus where Mr. Gandhi would be taking part in a protest programme in the morning. Mr. Rahul’s tour managers have clearly told the State Congress leadership not to join his visit and instead focus on the GHMC election campaign. It is understood that only the members of the student’s wing of the party – National Students Union of India – would join the protest demonstration going on in the varsity. Only Congress MLA Ch. Vamsichand Reddy, was allowed to oversee the arrangements.