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DalitStudent Suicide: Poet Ashok Vajpeyi returns D. Litt Degree

Poet Ashok Vajpeyi

New Delhi: Noted writer Ashok Vajpeyi yesterday decided to return D.Litt given to him by Hyderabad University in protest against the “anti-dalit” attitude of authorities which has allegedly driven a dalit student to commit suicide.

“A dalit student, Rohith Vemula, who wanted to be a writer was driven to commit suicide due to anti-dalit and intolerance of dissent shown. I have decided to return the award in protest against university authorities, (who were) presumably acting under political pressure,” Vajpeyi told PTI.

The former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman, who was awarded D.Litt (Doctor of Letters, honoris causa) by the Central University of Hyderabad few years ago, said the institution has “acted against human dignity and knowledge.”

Vemula, who committed suicide on Sunday night, was among the five research scholars who were suspended by the University in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on a student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel.

Union Labour Minister Dattatreya, Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others were on Monday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the dalit student.

Vajpeyi was among the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award to the government criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking up against various incidents of violence against writers and activists.

A total of 39 writers had returned their awards protesting against the Akademi’s alleged silence on the murder of fellow writer and Sahitya Akademi board member M M Kalburgi as well as against the growing “communal atmosphere” following the Dadri lynching incident.

Vajpeyi had received the Sahitya award in 1994 for his poetry collection, ‘Kahin Nahin Wahin’.

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