UoH Scholar Confronts VC

  • Refuses to accept certificate from Appa Rao

Hyderabad: The 18th convocation of University of Hyderabad had reflected the ruffled feelings of a section of student community when a scholar Sunkanna Velupula refused to accept his PhD degree from Vice-Chancellor Dr P Appa Rao. This gesture was made in solidarity with Rohit Vemula, a Dalit scholar who committed suicide on the campus on January 17 this year.

Sunkanna Vemula was one of the four Dalit scholars who were expelled from their hostel along with Rohit. When P Mohanty, Dean, School of Humanities, called all the five PhD scholars in Philosophy to receive their degrees, Velupula walked on to the dais to express his dissent directly to the face of the Vice-Chancellor. While Appa Rao was taken aback and tried to persuade the scholar to accept the certificate, the student stood still folding his hands firmly without budging.

Vipin Srivatsava

Sunkanna Velupula receiving his PhD degree from Vipin Srivastsava, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, UoH

Then, the VC had summoned Pro-Vice-Chancellor Vipin Srivatsava to do the honours and only then Velupula accepted his PhD certificate. Later, Velupula told the media persons that had he accepted the certificate from the VC it would have been an insult to the memory of Rohit Vemula. The VC still has cases against him for abetting suicide and also under the Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act.

Velupula said such a person has no moral right to grant degrees to students. He alleged that the academic system in the university is oppressive and it is particularly against the marginalized communities. Vulupula had recently joined Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, to pursue post-doctoral studies. The 36-year old Velupula hails from Kurnool district and was a student of UoH since 2008 for his MA and PhD.

While the video of Sunkanna Velupula refusing to accept the certificate from the VC went viral in social media, the VC himself took it in his stride philosophically saying that everyone has a right to act in his own way. In all 1,564 students were conferred degrees on Saturday by the UoH.

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