It was the protest over the ABVP disrupting the screening of a documentary at Delhi University, and not over the hanging of Yakub Memon, which led to an argument between two student groups at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and the subsequent suspension of five research scholars, one of whom committed suicide.
The Ambedkar Students Union (ASU), other student groups and even faculty members claim that the alleged protest over hanging of 1993 Mumbai bombings convict Yakub Memon was mentioned in the report of the sub-committee of the executive council following the intervention of two central ministers. Interestingly, the earlier report of the proctorial board committee which conducted an inquiry into the incident made no mention of the protest against Memon’s hanging.
“The executive council made no fresh inquiry but dragged the issue of Yakub Memon’s hanging in its report when it nowhere figured in the probe by the proctorial board,” HCU Students’ Union president K.P. Zuhail told IANS.
The ASU members were protesting on August 2 over an incident at Delhi University, where the ABVP disrupted screening of ‘Muzaffarnagar baqi hai’, a documentary on the Muzaffarnagar’s riots. The protesters termed the ABVP’s action as ‘hooliganism’.
It was after this protest that ABVP president Susheel Kumar made this comment on Facebook: “ASA (Ambedkar Students Association) goons are talking about hooliganism..feeling funny’.
On the night of August 4, ASA members went to Susheel Kumar’s hostel room and made him write an apology. “The security officer was also present when Susheel Kumar gave a written apology,” said Dontha Prasanth, one of the students who was later suspended.
Susheel Kumar, however, alleged that ASA members assaulted and one of them even kicked him. He later lodged a complaint with university authorities and was admitted to a private hospital for a surgery for appendicitis.
The proctorial board in its interim report of August 12 said it found no evidence that Susheel Kumar was assaulted. The report, which was prepared in the absence of Susheel Kumar’s deposition, strongly warned for posting “such comments on Facebook”.
It also strongly warned the five ASA members for going to Susheel Kumar’s room at midnight and asking for an apology instead of complaining to the appropriate authorities.
It was on August 17 that Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani. He claimed that ASA had staged a protest against Memon’s execution and when Susheel Kumar protested against this, he was manhandled. Dattatreya, a Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad, also wrote that Hyderabad Central University has become a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.
The proctorial board, in its final report on August 31, imposed a complete suspension on the five students.
However, on a request by the students, then vice chancellor R.P. Sharma revoked the suspension and decided to form a fresh committee of the proctorial board to look into the issue. This committee was never constituted.
In the meantime, the HRD ministry sent at least five reminders to the university authorities between September 3 and November 20 last year with reference to Dattatreya’s letter.
P. Appa Rao who took over as the new vice chancellor on Sharma’s retirement, formed a sub-committee of the executive council which suspended the students.
Subsequently, Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, one of the five suspended students, committed suicide triggering nation-wide protests which are still continuing. Appa Rao then went on leave but the students are demanding that he quit. The university has also established a judicial commission to probe Vemula’s suicide.