Mother of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit student who committed suicide at Hyderabad University last month, has accused Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani of spreading “blatant lies” in Parliament about the events surrounding her son’s death.
Addressing a press conference along with Rohith’s brother Raja and friend Dontha Prashant, Radhika responded to several observations that Irani had made and urged her to “end her spree of misrepresenting facts”.
Vemula committed suicide after he was suspended by the university, along with five other Dalit students including Prashant, for allegedly assaulting an ABVP leader.
On Friday, Radhika said the BJP would be “decimated to the ground” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not intervene and take action against Irani and her Cabinet colleague Bandaru Dattatreya, who had written multiple letters to her seeking action against Rohith, alleging anti-national activities.
Radhika said, “There is no bigger insult to a mother than her son being called anti-national. At Ambedkar University, Narendra Modi referring to Rohith said, that India has lost a son. This is the same son that his Cabinet Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has called anti-national. If he believes this, why has he not taken action against Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani.”
Prashanth, a student of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), elaborated on points that he said Irani ‘falsified’. Referring to her comment that no police or medical personnel were allowed to examine Rohith’s body the day he was found dead, Prashanth said, “This is false and malicious on the part of the honourable HRD Minister. On the day that Rohith passed away, his body was discovered at 7pm and Dr Rajshree arrived at the spot at around 7:30. Second, the suggestion that no police were present is ludicrous. There is video evidence on Facebook of police being present on campus. Circle Inspector Gachibowli, Ramesh, had arrived on campus by around 7.30 pm.”
Prashant said another observation of Irani that UoH Chief Warden Nagaraju was part of the enquiry committee that looked into Rohith’s matter was also false. “Our chief warden was never a part of the enquiry, this is yet another false claim and there will be administrative proof of the fact that he was never part of the enquiry committee,” he said.
According to Prashant, Irani also told Parliament that the government had no role to play in the appointment of the executive committee that suspended Rohith and his four friends. “This is also false. Her government and not the former appointed the Executive Council headed by vice chancellor Appa Rao Poddile. She also lied about there being an SC member on the council. There was never an SC member on this council,” he said.
Another point raised was the fact that Irani suggested that Rohith had received his stipend in November. Prashanth said, “Rohith’s letter was proof of the fact that this was false. He had not received his stipend for seven months and was unable to send money home. The committee that suspended us banned us from administrative places, common places and our hostel rooms and till the suspension was revoked we were staying outside the campus and sometimes on the road. We did not have access to the food that the university hostel gave us either at that point in time.”
Adding to the points made, Rohith’s friend Vijay Kumar said, “We have all faced incredible humiliation already, yet the honourable minister continues to lie and make theatrical comments in Parliament. We are aware that she used to be an actor, but it’s time she stopped acting and started telling the truth about this matter.”
Rohith’s brother, Raja Vemula said, “Irani ji, this the real world and we as a family have lost Rohith and his grandmother. Our grandmother died because of harassment by the police who perpetually questioned our caste identity. The police is not competent to enquire about caste, only the district magistrate is. Both, my mother and I have already deposed our magistrate and proved our caste. We have our SC certificates to prove the same.”