Tribal students at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) reopened their 'velivada' on Tuesday, and began a relay hunger strike demanding that the varsity administration declare their candidate, Naresh Lunavath, as the vice-president of the studentsâ€™ union for 2017-18.
"Last year they killed Rohit Vemula who was a Dalit scholar, and now administration is targeting tribal students. Lunavath Naresh won the students' union elections 2017-18 as Vice-President. Despite his win, the administration is trying to lower tribal voices in the campus," a press release by the student states.
"To resist the Appa Rao Podile-led administration, the tribal students are conducting a relay hunger strike for two days, following which they will start an indefinite hunger strike, if the administration doesn't fulfil their demands," it adds.
In September, a Grievance Redressal Committee had found that the elected Vice-President Lunavath Naresh lacked attendance, which is an eligibility criterion to contest the elections.
Lunavath got 1884 votes to win the post. However, the ABVP allegedly complained to the University Election Commission to nullify his election since he lacked attendance, following which there was an inquiry initiated against him on the day of the election results.
â€śA complaint was sent to the administration saying that I was facing attendance shortage though I got 75%. I deposed before the grievance committee constituted by the administration and gave justification on my attendance. Despite that, the committee recommended for re-election for the post. The administration is suppressing voices of tribal student in the university,â€ť Lunavath was quoted as saying.
Following the hunger strike, the UoH administration issued a press statement, which said, "The University of Hyderabad has decided to request a retired judge of the High Court to examine and advise the university on the matter about the election of the vice-president of the Studentsâ€™ Union."
The administration also said that the retired judge would be handed over all records and documents pertaining to the elections and the report of the committee recently constituted to examine the attendance records of the School of Medical Sciences to which Lunavath belongs.
"This decision comes in the wake of the studentsâ€™ decision to go on a relay hunger strike this morning, demanding that Mr.Naresh be straight away declared elected as vice-president. The university officials have repeatedly been advising and counselling the students to convince the students to wait for the universityâ€™s decision. Since the students remained defiant and the matter is litigious, the university has now decided to approach a retired judge for his opinion," the press release states.
"Meanwhile, the students have again been advised to give up the strike, failing which the university will be forced to initiate disciplinary action launching the strike without providing any notice to the administration. The university administration once again appeals to the students to withdraw the agitation and wait for the report from the judge, in view of the impending end-semester examinations," it adds.