Two days after JNU student’s death, echo in both Houses

Two days after JNU student’s death, echo in both Houses

Ministers express shock, invoke rohith vemula’s suicide

J Muthukrishnan

The death of JNU M.Phil student J Muthukrishnan caused a flutter in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. In Rajya Sabha, as CPI member D Raja made a mention of the student’s death, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told agitating members from Opposition benches that the government has directed the Delhi Police to urgently file an FIR in the case. Muthukrishnan was found hanging from the ceiling fan at a friend’s house in Munirka Vihar on Monday. The case brought back memories of University of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide, with several MPs flagging the issue of discrimination against Dalit scholars in central universities.

Sitharaman, who met the family and friends of the deceased student, along with teachers and student leaders, said the government was considering his father’s request for a job for his sisters. During Zero Hour, Raja said the Dalit student from Tamil Nadu had died in “pathetic” and “mysterious” circumstances and asked what was happening in central universities. Several other members, including DMK leaders Tiruchi Siva and Kanimozhi, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav and JD(U)’s Ali Anwar Ansari, expressed anguish over the incident.

Yadav demanded that HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar answer the questions, while Ansari said this was not the first instance of discrimination in JNU. Sitharaman, while admitting that an FIR had not been filed in the matter, said the government had directed police to register a case by noon. Police filed an FIR later in the day. She added that the government had suggested that police include provisions related to prevention of atrocities against SC, ST students and abetment to suicide as well. She also assured members that the government would ensure justice in the matter.

Sitharaman said that Muthukrishnan’s father had expressed a wish that his sisters get jobs. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has assured that the father’s demand will be considered, Sitharaman told MPs. Deputy Speaker P J Kurien told the minister that the statements by MPs seemed to suggest that there was a feeling of discrimination and insecurity among Dalit students and the government should look into this.

In Lok Sabha, Opposition members trooped into the Well and demanded a probe into the incident. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar assured the House of “suitable action” and said the entire House shared the grief over the death. “It is very shocking. He had written a Facebook post criticising the Dalit policy of JNU. He had recorded incidents of discrimination. His father has sought a CBI enquiry,” K Suresh of the Congress said. Members of Lok Sabha also equated Muthukrishnan’s death to Vemula’s suicide.