As unrest continued at the Hyderabad Central University, the varsity authorities on Wednesday prevented Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from entering the campus to address the students agitating over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Kanhaiya, who came with Rohith’s mother and brother to express solidarity with the students, was greeted with slogans for and against him at the gate.
“I came from JNU to HCU to support Rohith Vemula’s cause... We will have to fulfil Rohith Vemula’s dreams. And social justice has to be brought in the country. This government is not listening to the voice of the students,” he said.
The university authorities, in the morning, issued a notification banning entry of outsiders including political parties, media and other social/student groups. They also suspended classes for four days.
Kanhaiya, speaking outside the campus, called it “shameful”. “I blame university authorities and police. This fight is to save democracy and the Constitution. We will not tolerate an attack on democracy. We want freedom from casteism and untouchability. We would not have disturbed the peace on the campus had we been allowed,” he said.
Police had kept strict security at the main gate preventing non-students from entering.
There were heated arguments between police and Communist Party of India leaders who accompanied Kumar as police did not allow them in.
Earlier in the day, police arrested 25 students and two faculty members for allegedly ransacking the residence of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile on Tuesday and pelting stones.
Kanhaiya, after landing in the city, blamed the government for blowing up the issue at JNU (of `anti-national’slogans) only to divert attention from Rohith’s suicide and its aftermath.
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice of HCU will carry on its struggle until the Centre brought `Rohith Act’, Kanhaiya said.
After arriving in the city, Kanhaiya said, “The government smartly made an issue of JNU to keep Rohit Vemula’s issue under carpet. But we all know that even if we are different, we are one when it comes to saving justice in the nation. That’s why as soon as I came out of jail, on behalf of JNUSU, I thought I would go to Hyderabad. My first visit outside Delhi would be Hyderabad,” he said.
He said Vemula’s mother was like “Bhagat Singh’s mother” in the present circumstances.
Though he was scheduled to address a meeting on the campus organised by JAC which spearheaded the agitation demanding justice for Vemula who committed suicide in a hostel room at HCU on January 17, Vice Chancellor Podile said nobody had approached for permission for the event.
“Nobody has approached for permission. Definitely, there is no permission,” he said.
As tension rose at HCU following the resumption of duty by Podile, whose removal from the post is a key demand of JAC, classes were suspended till March 26. “We have taken a decision not to allow any outsider, including media persons and political parties, on the campus,” Registrar M Sudhakar said earlier in the day.
Podile, in the eye of a storm over Vemula’s suicide, had proceeded on leave on January 24.
When asked if the issue was being politicised, Podile on Wednesday said he did not think so, adding that he did not attach any significance to Kumar’s visit as “we have nothing to do with that boy”.
“As far as our campus is concerned, I don’t see same kind of polarisation,” he said.
Image: Kanhaiya Kumar addressing the students outside Hyderabad University, after the JNU student leader was denied entry. Photograph: PTI