Hyderabad : As protests escalated over the suicide of dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad Central University (HCU), in-charge V-C Vipin Srivastava on Monday appealed to the fasting students to withdraw their strike saying the impasse can end only through talks and he is ready to discuss the matter in detail even in the presence of media.

“We have been telling them for the last three days not to go on hunger strike. The main problem at this time is, today is 25th of January. Students’ scholarships, fellowships (are to be cleared)… There is a procedure to be followed. Somebody has to sign the cheques,” Srivastava told PTI here.

“We are ready to sit across the table. All the papers, all the evidences are there. Let us look into them threadbare. Let the people from media come, whosoever wants to. It should not be a huge gathering, a gathering that can be managed, and then look at it,” the in-charge V-C added.

“…Everybody is appealing to the students to call this off so that the administration could function. Some financially urgent matters, which have been pending – like salaries etc, particularly of class four employees, scholarships and fellowships of the students – they can be processed,” he said.

He said he is concerned about class four employees who are already “very uncomfortable”. “Our salaries are not that important. It’s the salaries of class four employees (that’s important). As it is, they get a small amount. But, they have families to maintain. The salaries have to be processed. Typically, around 18th of every month, the process starts. Today is already 25th,” the in-charge V-C lamented.

He further said he met some faculty members last night. “As a result, I see an appeal given out by the teachers’ association. I’ve also requested many members to meet me in the guest house but the police advised me not to step out. “So, I’ve sent an email to all my colleagues if they can come down to my residence and talk. Only through talks we can arrive at a solution. I reiterate the administration should be allowed to function and laboratories should open so that the students do not face any irreparable damage,” he added.

On the allegation by the agitating students that he was responsible for suicide of another student (Senthil Kumar), Prof Srivastava said the charges are unfair.

“Way back in 2008, people were passing judgements that I was responsible. I was dean at that time. This was a newly admitted research student. He was going through pre-PhD course work and for reasons, still not clear, he committed suicide. “People are saying there was discrimination. I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, there was no discrimination. We don’t have those feelings. By and large, individuals may feel whatever they like. I claim there is no discrimination,” he said.

Protests escalated at the HCU on Monday with several students from other universities and some social groups coming out in support of the agitating students over the suicide of Rohith.–PTI

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