Apprising members of the RSS and ABVP on Monday about the government’s stand on the JNU sedition controversy and Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad Central University, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani is learnt to have reiterated the defence she put up in Parliament on February 24.
She made the briefing during a workshop hosted by the Society Against Conflict and Hate, an NGO close to the RSS. BJP General Secretary (Organisation) Ramlal was present at the event.
According to sources, Irani’s speech was followed by a presentation on JNU Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, now on bail in the sedition case, and allegations made against him by ABVP student leader and JNUSU joint secretary Saurabh Sharma. Some student leaders from Hyderabad Central University also briefed participants on the events leading up to Vemula’s suicide, it is learnt.
The organisers also distributed a booklet, “Communists and Jehadists at Work in JNU”, among the participants. Edited by BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj, it details how the JNU experiment has allegedly gone awry. It contains a chapter on the events leading up to Kanhaiya’s arrest, and what happened thereafter. It includes an essay on how “JNU can’t be allowed to be a nursery of secession” and the transcript of Irani’s speech in Lok Sabha last month, among others.
ABVP’s organising secretary Sunil Ambekar also spoke in one of the sessions of the day-long workshop. To counter the accusation that RSS played no role in the independence movement, sources said Ramlal briefed the participants about RSS founder Dr K B Hedgewar’s role in the freedom struggle and how he was jailed by the British.
Monday’s workshop was restricted to a select few, and many RSS workers who wanted to attend were not allowed, it is learnt. Most of the participants were from the BJP, ABVP, NDTF and other organisations associated with the RSS. Participants were directed to not speak with the media post-workshop.