University of Hyderabad Unrest: Rohit Velmula’s ‘Velvida’ Shattered

University of Hyderabad has once again been affected by students’ unrest as the Velvida (a temporary structure housing portraits of Dalit icon) was demolished by the university administration.

Kabir | The New Leam

The University of Hyderabad has been once again plagued with unrest as a place situated within the university and considered reverential by the students came under attack. The protests by the students at University of Hyderabad have erupted because on January 6, 2019 the university administration removed ‘Velivada’- a temporary structure which houses the portrait of many caste icons such as B.R. Ambdekar, Periyar, Savitribai Phule and Jyotirao Phule.

The students asserted that their sentiments were being hurt by such a harsh action by the administration and more than 200 students gathered outside the temporary structure and raised slogans against the administration for hurting their feelings.

The Velivada has immense significance for the students of the university because it was first erected by Dalit scholar Rohith Velmula and four other students near the shopping complex in the university after they had been suspended from the university. Rohith Velmula’ death anniversary is coming on January 17 and for this cause, the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) had recently rebuilt the Velivada. The university administration demolished the statue the next day.

The Velida is important to the students at HCU because it was in it that Rohith Velmula and five other Dalit scholars had spent their nights when they were under suspension.  It was of great relevance to the movement that had been shaping on the campus. During the protests the student burnt the effigy of the University of Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Podile Appa Rao.

The removal of the space has to be understood in the wider scheme of things wherein in July 2016, the bust of B.R. Ambedkar was removed by the university through the administration against which the teachers and student held a protest and filed police complaint. The attack on the symbols that are held in reverence by the Dalit students is being highly condemned by the university community and raising issues of marginalization and symbolic violence in the campus.

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