The protesting students at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have decided to intensify their stir by launching a mass indefinite hunger strike from Friday night. The Joint Action Committee of the university, which was formed in the wake of Ph.D student Rohith Vemula’s suicide, has also announced on Thursday that they will not let the administration of the university function until their demands are met.
However, the JAC has decided not to disrupt the regular classes and will allow the classrooms and research labs to be opened for students, perhaps for the first time in ten days since the suicide episode has rocked the campus.
“January 30 would have been the 27th birthday of Rohith. There will be a candlelight vigil at 11 p.m. on January 29 after which a mass indefinite hunger strike will begin. Two of the students who were expelled along with Rohith will also join the indefinite hunger strike along with many other students. We appeal to the students from universities across the country to follow the same,” said Dickens Leonard, spokesperson of the JAC.
The JAC members have also announced that if their demands, which includes resignation of Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao and Interim Vice-Chancellor Vipin Srivastava, are not met by February second week, they will organise ‘Chalo Delhi’ programme to take their protests to the country’s capital.
With no sign of Prof. Srivastava stepping down from his post, the members of SC, ST Teachers’ Forum have announced that they will continue their relay hunger strike. The SC, ST Employees’ Welfare Association will also observe a protest day on Friday (January 29) in support of the protesting students.
A series of significant events unfolded on Thursday which began with counter protests by some students, followed by a press conference by Interim V-C Srivastava, and later an announcement by the JAC regarding their future course of action.
In the morning, about 200 students assembled near the School of Life Sciences building in South Campus with slogans and banners demanding resumption of regular classes. “We Want Research” shouts rent the air even as the opposite group comprising students supporting the ongoing agitation reached the venue. With a possibility of a confrontation between the two groups, the university security and the police officials remained alert.