Hyderabad University to Remove Rohith Vemula Memorials on Campus?

Minutes of a meeting held at the VC’s Camp Office on March 24, suggest that the removal of “unauthorized structures”.

4 min read
(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)

Just days after a minor victory – securing bail for the arrested students and professors – students at Hyderabad University find themselves gearing up for another battle: to protect the Rohith Smaraka Stupa which they fear will be removed by officials.

The fears of the students may not be unfounded. The minutes of a meeting held at the VC’s Camp Office on March 24, suggest that the removal of “unauthorised structures” is on the cards.

‘Unauthorised Things’

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

“Unauthorised things” could mean several things. The most prominent of these are the Rohith Smaraka Stupa, a bust of Rohith near the canteen and the Velivada (Dalit ghetto), the tent set up by the five students and their friends when they were suspended from the hostel last December.

The Joint Action Committee of the students, which has gotten wind of the move, says they will strive to ensure that it does not happen.

The five suspended students started their protest in the Shopcom area. The Velivada was made when the students were sleeping outside in the winter. By removing them, they want to kill the movement from where it was started. We will fight (back) until the VC is sacked.
JAC member Sushma (name changed) to The News Minute

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The Smaraka Stupa – simple concrete slab with a photo of Rohith – was set up near the Velivada, where Rohith spent his last days before killing himself from his friend’s room on January 17.

We will not let them remove the Stupa but even if they do, we will re-build it. Even by removing them, the university will not stop our protest.
Sunkanna, PhD scholar

Entry Restrictions

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Students are also disturbed by another aspect of discussion in the meeting, which concerns the continued restriction of entry of outsiders in the campus, especially the media.

On March 23, Apparao Podile, the Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad University had issued instructions that no outsider including politicians, media and others would be allowed to enter the campus. It was issued on the day JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar was to visit the university and address the students.

Even Radhika and Raja Vemula, Rohith’s mother and brother, were not allowed inside the campus when they arrived to protest Apparao’s return to the university.

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Former HCU student Avnish who is participating in the protests told The News Minute that restricting the entry of outsiders would simply not work.

Amrith BLS wonders why the Vice Chancellor had continued to restrict entry into the campus. “If he believes that he is innocent of all charges, why place restrictions?”

Normalcy Needed

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The minutes of the meeting show that the deans and others at the meeting did indeed discuss implementing the UGC’s directive to set up a police outpost on campus.

PhD scholar Ramji believes that the university wants to block the media because it did not want the goings on at the university to be known outside.

The faculty and non-teaching staff are supporting outright VC, who is the prime accused. They are blocking media because the media are exposing these facts.
Ramji, PhD scholar

The meeting of the university officials also constitutes a seven-member committee to negotiate with the “agitating students to restore normalcy on the campus”.

(Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Students however, say they want nothing to do with the committee.

Professor Vipin Srivastava, who was designated PRO during the meeting denied that there was any move to remove the stupas.

Yes we had meeting on March 24 with deans from all the departments and all these things were discussed. But the decision of removing stupas and unauthorized things is not true as we have not had any discussion on removal of stupas. This document which you received is fabricated, I guess.
Professor Vipin Srivastava, PRO

However, a professor of the university confirmed to The News Minute that the minutes of the meeting had been circulated among all departments.

Srivastava did not however, deny that the entry of outsiders would continue.

Media and other outsiders will not be allowed until further notice. For now, our only concern is to restore normalcy in the campus.
Professor Vipin Srivastava, PRO

(The writer Anusha Puppala works with The News Minute.)

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