Expanding the protest beyond Dalit and SC/ST groups, “concerned teachers” at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) started a relay hunger strike on Thursday on campus. One of the faculty members, Karthik Bittu, also a dalit rights activists told dna that after issuing a statement of support soon after Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s suicide, other teachers were finally joining the struggle for justice for Vemula.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the under-fire VC Appa Rao Podile of UoH remains on leave, the deans of colleges visited the protesters looking to negotiate. The student teacher joint protest has demanded that the deans too ask for the VC’s resignation in writing, which they haven’t done so far. The protesting collective however refused to negotiate with the acting VC Dr. Vipin Srivastava. Meanwhile, the two bathes of students continue their hunger strike in hospital. One batch, of seven students, has been on a hunger strike for ten days.Hunger strikes and dharnas as methods of protest has been used on campuses across India, as universities from Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai have erupted. On Wednesday itself, students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, went on a hunger strike within the confines of a police station as they were detained for protesting. Students in Mumbai have been carrying out dharnas and protesting functions organised by the RSS, said Bittu. The call to action is against the right wing organisation as it was a fight with its student body president, Susheel Kumar of the ABVP, and a series of progressively ugly events, suuh as the suspension of five dalit students, including Vemula, that culminated in Vemula’s suicide.Senior BJP members found themselves facing the heat for pressuring the university to act in favour of Susheel, even as the two member fact finding committee formed by the HRD ministry gave a clean chit to minister Smriti Irani and put the blame squarely on UoH.However the fact finding committee formed by the now national Joint Action Committee of the students and other protesters found Irani and university authorities to be equally responsible for Vemula’s death. This national committee has been organising hunger strikes and students marches in different cities. On 1st February a massive march is expected by Mumbai students, said Bittu.

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Dalit scholar suicide: Collective of teachers go on relay hunger strike in Hyderabad University