Demanding "justice" for Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula who hanged himself on Hyderabad University campus last week, students of JNU and DU today staged hunger strikes and conducted peaceful marches across Delhi.
While the students from JNU who began their indefinite hunger strike yesterday, continued to raise their demands of resignations of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya and the varsity Vice Chancellor, those in DU staged a one-day hunger strike.
The students were joined by the protesters from Youth Indian Congress (IYC), congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) and left-backed All India Students Association (AISA).
"We today conducted a protest march from Vishvidyalya metro station to Delhi University campus in solidarity with the ongoing nationwide protests against the state motivated murder of Rohith," said IYC spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey.
The AISA which has been leading the protests over the issue in the national capital said the issue demands outrage beyond token protests.
26-year-old Vemula Rohit, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at the Central University's hostel room on January 17.
He was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on an ABVP student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel. The suspension was revoked later.
Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor were named in an FIR over the death of the scholar, which triggered massive protests and demands for their removal from their posts.
The issue also took a political turn with allegations that the extreme action was a result of discrimination against Dalit students after Dattatreya had written a letter to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani seeking action against their "anti-national acts".
In a bid to defuse the raging controversy, the Centre had last week decided to set up a judicial commission to go into the dalit student's suicide in Hyderabad University, which announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 8 lakh to his family but protests continued.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence and expressed grief over the death of Vemula, the students are demanding the removal of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor.