Hindi poet and literary critic Ashok Vajpeyi on Tuesday announced to return his D.Litt degree awarded to him by Hyderabad University in protest against circumstances that forced PhD scholar Rohith Vemula for suicide. Vajpayee's announcement comes two days after, Vemula, a Ph.D student, committed suicide on Sunday alleging harassment by the university authorities.
In October last year also, Vajpayee has returned his Sahitya Akademi award over government's apathy in dealing with the murders of Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi winner MM Kalburgi, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Vajpeyi, the 74 year-old former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman, among the first few intellectuals to return awards after Hindi litterateur Uday Prakash and English writer Nayantara Sahgal.
Research scholar Rohit Vemula, in his suicide note, had alleged that he was not getting his fellowship for past seven months. "If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that (sic)," Rohit purportedly wrote in the letter.
On Tuesday, scores of students intensified their protests at the university campus demanding action against Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao, university's Vice-Chancellor P Appa Rao and two ABVP leaders.