Hyderabad Central University (HCU) Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, who is at the centre of a raging controversy over suicide by a dalit student following his suspension, on Wednesday asserted there had been “no pressure” from Union Ministers or the HRD Ministry to act against the youth.
He also claimed that the youth, Rohith Vemula, did not mention his suspension as the reason for the extreme step in the suicide note and that he had favoured leniency for the students allegedly involved in the ABVP leader attack in view of their background so that they could continue to get their scholarship to pursue their studies.
“I am not sure whether suspension has really been the cause for suicide. At least not from the face of the suicide note as left by the student,” he said.
Rao said he was deeply disturbed by the loss of a precious life and the disruption of academic activities.
He also sought to distance the HRD Ministry and the two ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya from the decisions taken by the University which allegedly forced Rohith Vemula to commit suicide.
“There was no pressure. We took the letters received as routine letters,” he said, adding “there was no phone call from either of the ministers or any ministry official”.
The HRD ministry had written as many as five letters to Hyderabad University on Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya’s complaint regarding “anti national activities” on the campus and the “violent attack” on the ABVP leader Susheel Kumar. The Ministry has maintained it was standard procedure on such “VIP references”.
Asked why there were discrepancies in the interim report and the final report which called for suspension, Rao said the interim report was made without talking to the “so called victim”.
He claimed that it was later decided that the punishment would be “mellowed down” in view of the background of the students as a semester suspension would have denied them the scholarship and would have virtually made impossible for them to continue their studies.
The VC appealed to the students to resume academic activities and “not give space for any political games”.
He offered to hold talks with students to resolve the issues raised by them and called for collective efforts to avoid recurrence of such incidents in the future.
Rao said that the mother of ABVP leader Susheel Kumar, who was allegedly beaten up by students including Vemula, had filed a case in the High Court.
The court in return had several times asked the University about what decision it had taken on the complaint, he said.