Rohith Vemula Suicide: BJP Anti-Dalit & Anti-Poor, Says Congress

The Congress criticised Smriti Irani’s dismissal of the caste angle to Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

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Deepender S Hooda, Spokesperson of Indian National Congress held a press conference on Wednesday. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)

Deepender S Hooda, Spokesperson of Indian National Congress held a press conference on Wednesday to refute the statements issued by HRD Minister, Smriti Irani on the Centre’s stance of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

Dalit vs Non-Dalit Case

In her press conference, Irani had dismissed the opinion that caste had any role to play in Vemula’s suicide. Citing reasons to support her statement, she said Susheel Kumar, the ABVP student involved in the scuffle with the students’ association, the head of the executive council, and the hostel warden were all dalits themselves.

Rebutting this argument, Deepender Hooda reminded the audience of Union Minister General VK Singh’s infamous dog-dalit comparison in the aftermath of the murder of two Dalit children. The Ambedkar Periyar study circle too was banned in IIT Madras and RSS journal, Panchjanya, had alleged that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was a den for anti-nationals, he said.

The Modi government has imposed a cut of Rs 90,374 crores in the SC plan and a cut of Rs 305 crores on post-matriculation scholarship schemes for SC/ST.

Deepender S Hooda

All these examples, he said, made it apparent that the current government has consistently been displaying anti-dalit attitude.

HC Order vs Dismissal of First Proctorial Report

Irani persistently mentioned that the HC had refused to stay the order of the punishment against the five PhD students, adding that the students had in fact disobeyed the HC order. To further prove that the government was not involved in the order, she said that the executive council body comprised nominees from the previous government and not the NDA.

Hooda criticised Irani for dismissing the first proctorial report submitted by the executive council which had taken into account the statements of Duty Security Officer, Dalip Singh and Senior Medical Officer, Dr Anupama Rao before clearing the five PhD scholars of any allegation. Subsequently, he added that the board changed its stance completely and submitted a second report ordering suspension for the students.

He questioned as to why the first proctorial report was dismissed in the first place. Hooda also said that the Dalit scholars were abused by ABVP members with anti-dalit remarks.

Letters to the MHRD

In her press conference Smriti Irani mentioned, the MHRD had sent five reminders to the university seeking action after receiving Dattatreya’s letter maintaining that it was the standard procedure for MHRD to intervene in university porcedures to demand action. She said the same protocol was followed when Hanumantha Rao, member of Congress had sent a letter to the MHRD.

Reading his letter out loud, he said the letter that Rao had written on November 14, talked about the discrimination that dalit students were having to face.

During the past four years under the present VC, several students belonging to marginalised communities from the Telangana region have committed suicide due to alleged caste discrimination.

Excerpt from Hanumantha Rao’s letter

The Congress lay forth six demands before the Centre to resolve the present issue:

  • Suspension of the four other dalit scholars be revoked
  • V Appa Rao, the VC of Hyderabad University be removed
  • Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya be sacked
  • Compensation and job be provided to the deceased scholar’s family
  • Smriti Irani’s culpability be investigated by a sitting judge
  • Other persons involved also be investigated by the same sitting judge

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