Protesters raised slogans whilst attempting to disrupt the prime minister's address at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow.
Sharat Pradhan/Rediff.com reports from Lucknow
The slogans 'Narendra Modi go back' rent the air as Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to address a large gathering of students at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow where he arrived on Friday afternoon to participate in the annual convocation ceremony.
The slogans were followed with chants of "Narendra Modi murdabad (death to Narendra Modi)," just as the police moved in to take the protestors into custody.
While the prime minister did not react to the protestors, he did make an emotional reference to Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide, which he termed "highly unfortunate."
In a nearly choked voice that led to a long pause in his speech, Modi said, "The reasons or politics behind the suicide apart, it is an incident in which mother India has lost a son. Just think of what his family must be going through," adding, "I can feel their pain and agony."
Led by Ram Karan Nirmal, an LLM student, the protestors pointedly blamed the Modi government for the discriminatory and vindictive action against Vemula who committed suicide at the Hyderabad Central University last week.
Among the protesting students was Nirmal Arya, a gold medalist topper in the LLM course, for which he was to be honoured by the prime minister at Friday's ceremony.
The Dalit students at the university, who have formed an independent union, also sought to raise their voice against the expulsion of three Dalit students by BBAU vice-chancellor R C Sobti.
"The university administration is blatantly biased against scheduled caste students who are being systematically targeted," said Ambedkar University Dalit Students Union President Shreyat Bouddh, who is among the expelled students.
Bouddh expressed fear that Nirmal Arya too may face the same fate as himself as the vice-chancellor is extremely angry over the protests.
"The university administration is capable of framing Nirmal in false cases in the same manner as they had done against me," Bouddh alleged.
"We do not know where Nirmal and Amendra Arya have been taken by the police. We are still trying to find out," he added.
Modi was accompanied to the convocation by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
While UP Governor Ram Naik was present at the event, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav kept away from the event, deputing his cabinet colleague Paras Nath Yadav instead.