The removal of ‘Velivada’ by the University of Hyderabad administration on Sunday has triggered protests in the campus. Barring the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and its ally OBCF, all the other students organisations–Ambedkar Students’ Association, Bahujan Students’ Front, Dalit Students’ Union, Students’ Federation of India, Tribal Students’ Forum and others–took out a rally and gheraoed the administration building on Monday.
The protesting students raising slogans against the Vice-Chancellor Dr Appa Rao Podile, demanding that the Velivada be reinstalled. The students demanded that either the registrar or the VC must have a dialogue with them. However, as the security personnel denied them entry into the building, students blocked the building’s main entrance.
Students placed photos of anti-caste icons at the same place where the Velivada existed along with a placard “Rebuild Velivada” and later took a rally to the administration building carrying these photos. The Velivada (Dalit ghetto), a temporary structure with portraits of anti-caste icons like Dr BR Ambedkar, Shahu Maharaj, Ayyankali, Periyar, Jyotirao Phule, Savitribai Phule, and several others was erected in the campus after Rohith Vemula and four of his friends were evicted from their hostels. Rohith spent his last days in the same Velivada before he died by suicide on January 17, 2016.
The Velivada became the protest site of students who have been fighting for the cause of ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’. However, authorities early on Sunday removed the Velivada on grounds of vandalism. Before removing the Velivada, authorities had notified four students from Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) by sticking notices on their hostel doors on Saturday. As the registrar was not available, the students submitted their response to notice. The students said that the notice was ‘false, concocted and invented purposefully.’
ASA in its press release said that the protest would continue until the Vice Chancellor is arrested and removed.
Speaking to TNM, former president of ASA Dontha Prashanth said, “All the student groups except ABVP and OBCF took part in the protest. Our demand is to reinstall the Velivada and removal of the VC.”
“With the backing of the BJP, the VC has been committing these atrocities,” Prashanth alleged.
General Secretary of SFI, Kesaban Sankar Roy Choudhuri said, “We want the authorities to reinstall the Velivada, if not, we will intensify our struggle.”