HYDERABAD (India): Indian police fired water cannons on Monday to disperse students protesting the death of a young Dalit scholar who committed suicide after he was suspended from a university, a case some have blamed on caste-based discrimination.

Rohit Vemula, a 26-year-old doctoral student at the University of Hyderabad, was found hanged on Sunday evening, triggering protests in the southern city and New Delhi.

He was one of five students, all from India’s lowest Dalit social caste, to be suspended by the university after they were accused of assaulting the head of a right-wing student political group — a charge they denied.

Hyderabad police have registered preliminary cases against the university’s Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and Bandaru Dattatreya, a junior federal minister who had called for the university to punish the five.

They face charges of abetting a suicide and under a prevention of atrocities act that is designed to protect low-caste Hindus.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2016