Dalit student’s suicide takes political turn; Opposition, BJP trade charges

The HRD ministry rejected allegations that it had put any pressure on Hyderabad University relating to either suspension of Rohith Vemula or keeping him out of the hostel.

By: PTI | Hyderabad/new Delhi | Updated: January 20, 2016 12:25 pm
Rohith Vemula, Dalit student, Dalit student suicide, Hyderabad, Hyderabad University, Rohith Vemula Suicide, Rahul Gandhi, HRD ministry, HYderabad protests, Dalit protests, India news Activist stage a protest on Tuesday, against the Ministry of Human Resource Development over the suicide of a PhD scholar Rohith Vemula at University of Hyderabad. (Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar)

The suicide by a dalit student of Hyderabad University, on Tuesday snowballed into a major issue with BJP’s rivals wading into it and demanding the removal of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, accusing them of being responsible for the death.

As Congress mounted the demand for the sacking of the HRD and Labour Ministers, Rahul Gandhi led the multi-party charge attacking them and the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao saying “The VC and the Union Ministers in Delhi have not acted fairly. This youngster was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.”

Watch Video: Dalit Student Suicide Takes A Political Turn: A Discussion On The Latest Developments

Though he did not name Irani, who had just over the week attacked Rahul in his constituency Amethi of failing youths there, the reference was obvious to her against the backdrop of ministry’s action which is blamed for the suicide by Rohith Vemula, a research scholar, on Sunday night.

Read: Behind Rohit Vemula’s suicide: how Hyderabad Central University showed him the door

Protests escalated in Hyderabad and cities across the country including in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. Student organisations including the pro-Left AISA and AAP-backed CYSS and Congress’ NSUI held protests in Jantar Mantar and the HRD ministry in the capital demanding the sacking of the ministers and strong action against the VC.

Various political parties and leaders have blamed Labour Minister Dattatreya’s letter of Aug 17 last year to Irani seeking action against the “anti-national activities” of a students union and the alleged assault of an ABVP leader and a series of five communications from the HRD Ministry between Sept 3 and Nov 19 demanding follow-up action for the suicide.

The HRD ministry, however, Tuesday rejected allegations that it had put any pressure on the University relating to either suspension of Rohith or keeping him out of the hostel.

Read: No evidence initially, then flip-flop began

The communications, it maintained, was not aimed at putting pressure but was in compliance with the standard protocol adopted in accordance with the Central Secretariat Manual of Procedure whenever a “VIP Reference” is received.

Ministry officials said the two-member committee of HRD officials have met people concerned in Hyderabad Tuesday and their fact-finding report is expected to be ready after their return tomorrow.

Rohith Vemula, Dalit student, Dalit student suicide, Hyderabad, Hyderabad University, Rohith Vemula Suicide, Rahul Gandhi, HRD ministry, HYderabad protests, Dalit protests, India news Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with students at the Hyderabad Central University.

After the high-profile visit of Rahul to the campus, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi also went there and asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not saying sorry over the incident.

“It does not need even 140 characters,” he said in an apparent reference to the Prime Minister’s penchant for tweeting on issues. He alleged that there has been social discrimination that had led to the suicide.

Gandhi flew into Hyderabad from Delhi in the morning and drove straight from the airport to the University campus where he addressed the agitating students.

He alleged that the institution instead of operating fairly has used its power to “crush” the freedom of students to express.

“The Vice Chancellor and the Minister in Delhi  have not acted fairly. What is the result. The result is that the youth, who came here to improve the country, to learn and to express himself was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.

Read: Give euthanasia facilities, Rohith Vemula wrote stinging letter to V-C

“Certainly he has committed suicide but conditions for his suicide were created by the Vice Chancellor, the minister and the institution,” he told the students, one of whom said before his speech that they did not want any politicising of the issue.

He demanded the “strictest punishment” for Vice-Chancellor and the minister holding them “responsible” for the death of the research scholar.

After meeting the students, Gandhi upped the ante against Irani and Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor, by observing in a tweet: The VC and Union Ministers in Delhi have not acted fairly. This youngster was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.”

Union Labour Minister Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others were Monday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the dalit student.

The Congress Vice President said there is “no question of the Vice Chancellor remaining” on merit and criticised him severely for not even meeting the mother of the deceased.

“There are certain people responsible for it. Vice Chancellor is among them. The minister is among them,” Gandhi said insisting that whoever is responsible for this outcome has to be punished in strictest terms.

In a series of other tweets, Gandhi said, “Any student can come to the University- whether he belongs to any caste or religion. He should feel that I can say what I want to say. The idea of a University is that young people can come and share their thoughts.”

“These students were protesting against the unjust expulsion and social boycott of Dalit students on campus. Met students of the Ambedkar Students Association, Hyderabad University,” he said in the other tweets.

Earlier, accompanied by senior Telangana Congress leaders, Gandhi paid tributes to Vemula by garlanding a memorial “stupa” put up in the university. He also spent some time with family members of Vemula and consoled them. More

On its part, the BJP accused Gandhi of politicising and insisted that it had nothing to do with the victim being from the depressed community.

Party general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, who hails from Telangana, accused Gandhi of “unprincipled” behaviour, saying that the same Congress which had “harassed” the dalit icon, B R Ambedkar “all his life” was now trying to project itself as a champion of the Dalit cause.

He alleged that Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula’s suicide has been made into a political issue by “Congress, a section of media and some groups with vested interests”.

In a series of tweets, he said, “Suicide of Rohith Vemula has nothing to do with dalit issues or rights just because he was a dalit. It is merely politicising of the issue.”

“Disciplinary action was taken against Rohith on the advice of the court and even a lenient stand was taken by University authorities by permitting him to enter the campus except the hostel,” he said.

“Rahul Gandhi’s hurried visit to Hyderabad is an unprincipled behaviour and it is unfortunate that a national political party stoops to such levels.

A two-member Trinamool Congress delegation led by party MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien will also visit Hyderabad to express solidarity with the agitating students.

“We have spoken to the students and they said it will be a nice gesture if you come and express solidarity with us”, O’Brien here said.

“I have listened to their account regarding the incident. We will reach Hyderabad this evening”, he said, adding another member of the delegation is party MP Pratima Mondol.

Senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party held the Central government responsible for the suicide.

“The student’s suicide note raises suspicion…the party heading the government at the Centre and its affiliated organisations are responsible for it…these parties are anti-Dalit and anti-minorities and do not want them (students) to study and come on par with others,” Khan said in a statement here.

Lending his voice to the criticism of the Centre, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that Modi sack Irani and Dattatreya and apologise to the nation over the suicide. He questioned the ministers’ “interference” in the internal affairs of the institution.

Terming it as a “murder” of democracy, social justice and equality, Kejriwal said the incident, which sparked massive protests across the country, has shaken the “collective conscience” of the entire nation.

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First Published on: January 19, 2016 8:36 pm
  1. V
    Jan 19, 2016 at 6:15 pm
    Dalits, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains ARE ALL AGAINST BRAHMINS. Brahmins are self annihilating themselves. Their ego will not allow them to keep their limbs, mouth, eyes, ears, nose to themselves. They derive great pleasure in poking Dalits, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains. EXACTLY FOR THENSAME REASON BRAHMINS WERE KICKED OUT OF CENTRAL ASIA 3000 YEARS AGO ALONG WITH THEIR BROTHERS IN WESTERN ASIA.
    1. H
      Jan 19, 2016 at 6:36 pm
      Look - The Italian led Con Party is encouraging Dalit students not to focus on their studies, and instead support anti-national and terror organisations. If the students divert their attention, how can they succeed in their studies? The so called "scholars", who are working under caste banner and supporting terror elements have not published any paper in journals to their credit. They only "write" letters to VCs and administration causing problems. The Con Party that looted the nation for several decades, want dalits to remain uneducated and poor, then only they can be misled for votes.
      1. V
        Jan 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm
        Brahmins are ultimate perverts. They will sacrifice your country or any country to save their AZZ. BEWARE!!!!!
        1. J
          Jan 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm
          The Pressutes are in ful swing spreading rumours, writing half truth and lies to bring discredit to the current BJP government at the centre. It is open secret that the corrupt media and terror organisations want to bring back the Italian mafia back to power, so that they can have free run.
          1. K
            Jan 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm
            120 million dalits should collect one rupees from each house hold in that way they will have 120 million Rupees which will be enough to pour Petrol on Dattatrya ,anti dalit VC Appa Rap and Sunil Kumar.
            1. P
              Premjit Singh
              Jan 19, 2016 at 7:59 pm
              Good terrorist: those PM Modi signs peace accord with and support their cause. Bad terrorist: that which is not liked by greater m and is a MUSLIM. The country is being led by the Anti-Nationalist leader.
              1. P
                Premjit Singh
                Jan 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm
                Hyderabad ABVP are goons. They beat up an engineering student just because he kept mum while all others were shouting modi! Modi!
                1. P
                  Premjit Singh
                  Jan 19, 2016 at 8:18 pm
                  Will you change your stand if the story provided proves true. What if S. Irani and Dattatreya used term anti-national and treated them as such. I guess not, because you are one of those who do not see/look things as a neutral citizen. You are consumed by BJP.
                  1. U
                    US NRI
                    Jan 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm
                    Dalits are for . All political parties are trying to win them over. Politics was pla before bihar elections...caste based politicizing worked in bihar and will work in UP and Punjab..there are significant lower caste potion in Punjab making sense why certain leaders are trying to gain weight. This is an attempt to label certain parties as anti Dalits.. The more our voters show indifference and elect govts based on their potential the earlier these dirty politicians will stop winning votes on such politics
                    1. T
                      Jan 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm
                      All politicians are Haram......... as called by a Union Minister, so it is no surprise politicians shed crocodile tears
                      1. T
                        Jan 20, 2016 at 1:00 am
                        Feku56, Amul baby and other politicians as a cl are capable of putting their mother land on if price is right. Even a self proclaimed Mr Honest Akela Arvind is master in this game. Just recall his reaction to the suicide of Rajasthan farmer Gajendra Chauhan at an AAP rally in August 2015. When the farmer hanged himself in full view of Kejriwal and Co, did the Delhi CM break into a bout of self-flagellation, blaming himself for the 'murder', hanging his head in apologetic shame? No, Kejriwal instead belted out a rousing speech in the backdrop of the dangling corpse. Later, he ordered a magisterial enquiry into the death in a bid to deflect the blame to Delhi police and the Centre's policies.
                        1. V
                          Jan 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm
                          Sheik, who write in Muslim name, is not a Muslim. He is actually a BRAHMIN COWard!
                          1. V
                            Jan 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm
                            Similarly George Cruze, who writes in Christian name is not a Christian. He is another BRAHMIN COWard!!!
                            1. R
                              real story
                              Jan 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm
                              This is the way our law makers who are paid fat ry n benefits and want more, waste their time For them inflation drop on industrial output unemployment healthcare in shambles means nothing while common man eternally struggles n all rural India still relieves in open. Farmers committing suicides n food grain in imported to cover the short fall in this predominrntly agri country. God saves please!!!
                              1. A
                                arnab Ghosh
                                Jan 19, 2016 at 3:57 pm
                                why did these shameless politicians not visit Malda ?
                                1. A
                                  Jan 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm
                                  Let all these political parties, that are taking political advantage over a person's death, call for an inquiry commission under a sitting judge and only those political leaders - Rahul, Kejriwal, Azam Khan and TMC MPs and both the Ministers being accused - be members of this commission. Let there be discussion on all the accusations, including anti-social activities inside the university. Let the sitting judge decide the outcome. By the way, this should be completed within 3 months with no extension. Let the members come prepared to talk about this issues and no cheating with smart phones or notes on what to ask without understanding the meaning of them. Have patience and let the truth come out
                                  1. A
                                    Jan 19, 2016 at 3:56 pm
                                    What other defence can Smriti Irani give? She lied about her education. And she gas to lie now. Three letters to univ and that is not pressure? She shd also be tried for abetment along with the other lying minister dattatreya.
                                    1. M
                                      Jan 19, 2016 at 7:01 pm
                                      Dalits are for . you have so much darkness in your heart. I hope for FBI to track your coordinates, that you are on their radar. Because you have the potential to be danger to the very society you inhibit
                                      1. B
                                        Jan 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm
                                        The Question is NOT of Dalit or Not-Dalit, but to do with the kind of Insutions, Students and the Teachers. The aim should be to make most people in our Society lead a comfortable life whether educated or otherwise BUT ARE NOT destructive elements in Society. This is only possible when we inculcate values that make most of us to think in terms of 'live and let-live'. Obviously this is only possible when Hate-Mongers are nipped in the bud and acts of violence against Civilized citizens by goons are clearly punished irrespective of their Religion,Region etc. If the Political Parties support anti-social and anti-national elements for VOTES , we will be like stan soon.
                                        1. d
                                          Jan 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm
                                          The non sense of he said she said has gone on enough. Where were all the leaders when the boy was suffering. Let there. E a high level judicial enquiry to bring out the truth and take steps to prevent anther similar case from Happening.
                                          1. E
                                            Eric Pinto
                                            Jan 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm
                                            So AVBP should also stop their politics and concentrate on academics ?
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