Rahul Gandhi calls for strict punishment for those responsible for Rohith Vemula’s suicide

Rohith Vemula, whose body was found hanging in a hostel room, was among the five research scholars who were suspended by the university in August last year

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | New Delhi | Updated: January 20, 2016 12:25 pm
rohith vemula, dalit scholar suicide, dalit boy suicide, dalit student suicide, rohith vemula suicide, rohith vemula suicide letter, bandaru dattatreya, smriti irani, congress, india news Mother of Rohith Vemula (inset), a doctorate student at the Hyderabad Central University who was found hanging in a hostel room, speaking to media about his son’s depression at Osmania General Hospital in Hyderabad on Monday. (PTI photo)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi arrived Tuesday afternoon at Hyderabad Central University where Dalit research student Rohith Vemula, who had been suspended, committed suicide Sunday evening. Rahul attacked vice-chancellor Prof P Appa Rao as well as a “minister in New Delhi”, without naming either HRD Minister Smriti Irani or MoS for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya, who has been named in the FIR on abetment to suicide.

“The conditions for Rohith to commit suicide were created by the VC and the minister in New Delhi. The VC has no merit to continue in his post,” Rahul said. “Whether it is suicide or accident or illness, when a student dies, the man in-charge of this institution has to show the bare minimum respect and courtesy and go and meet the family. The VC has shown no decency to even meet Rohith’s mother. It is an insult to this institution and its students.”

Watch Video: Suspended Dalit Hyderabad Student Hangs Himself: What Transpired

Members of several student organisations staged noisy demonstrations against the VC demanding his resignation. Several student leaders explained the sequence of events to Rahul, who listened standing on a small stage. The student leaders urged everyone visiting the university not to make it one political party against another.

Rahul said he agreed with the view of students that the university administration created the conditions that drove Rohith to suicide. “I agree with the students and Rohith Vemula’s family must be compensated adequately. He was the family’s future, they were dependent on him,” Rahul said. “Now that he is no more, the future he was supposed to provide for the family should be given to the family in the form of compensation. And the people who are responsible for his death should receive the strictest punishment.”

rohith vemula, dalit scholar suicide, dalit boy suicide, dalit student suicide, rohith vemula suicide, rohith vemula suicide letter, bandaru dattatreya, smriti irani, congress, india news Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with students at the Hyderabad Central University (Photo by Harsha Vadlamani)

In New Delhi, the BJP hit back at Rahul. “It is unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi is doing politics over suicide. Congress has stooped to such a low that it is doing politics over the death of a student. We reject any such demand (of resignation) outright,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma. And general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said, “Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh should remember that the Congress had done gross injustice to Dr B R Ambedkar and harassed him all his life. Now they are trying to project themselves as champions of the Dalit cause.”

Read: Rohith Vemula’s suicide letter

Derek heads to campus

Rahul was the first political leader from Delhi to visit the campus. He will be followed by the Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and MP Pratima Mondol. “We have spoken to the students and they said it will be a nice gesture if you come and express solidarity with us,” PTI quoted O’Brien as saying.

See letters from the HRD Ministry to Hyderabad Central University