Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has said attempts to project Rohith Vemula — the Dalit student of Hyderabad Central University who committed suicide after being punished by the varsity administration — as an “anti-national” by citing his stance on Yakub Memon’s execution is the NDA government’s way of sending a message to anti-Hindutva forces. He also claimed that casteist discrimination has been a “reality on the HCU campus for years”.
“This is a case of pure hounding, a bogey that the NDA government has erected to paint Rohith as anti-national. They want to send a message to all anti-Hindutva and anti-ABVP forces. The proctoral report makes no mention of Yakub Memon. Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) wanted to screen a documentary on Muzaffarnagar (riots) and the outfit clashed with ABVP when it opposed the screening. ASA had quoted Ambedkar against capital punishment. It is obnoxious that BJP is now projecting him as an anti-national to absolve themselves on the issue of discrimination against Dalits,” said Owaisi, who is also the AIMIM chief.
The narrative, he added, is part of a larger discriminatory environment against Dalits and Muslims. “If it is a Muslim, shoot them and brand them an ISI element or simply say he was a violent man. The same treatment is meted out to Dalits in this country,” he said.
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Owaisi was one of the politicians who visited HCU in the wake of the suicide. He met the protesting students and Rohith’s mother.
“I am shocked to see BJP using a suicide note as a political tool to justify what happened. One can win a legal case by such cold methods, but how can you win a moral argument? Besides, what about the letter to the V-C where he asked for poison or a long rope? The issue is caste. An inquiry commission set up some years back found that there was an environment of discrimination in the varsity and there are inherent biases. In this case, the matter was compounded because Rohith was ideologically opposed to BJP,” Owaisi said. He demanded immediate sacking of the HCU vice-chancellor.
Owaisi also defended visits by leaders from various political parties—something the ruling BJP has strongly criticised. Stating that the visits were a legitimate way of elected representatives to voice their concern, he questioned: “What is wrong in it if it ends discrimination, results in Dalit uplift?”
Till a few years back, the university came under the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, currently represented by Owaisi. After delimitation, it is now in a different segment.