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4 Times Smriti Irani Misled the Parliament on Rohith Vemula

Did Smriti Irani knowingly or unknowingly mislead the Parliament?

Updated
India
4 min read
4 Times Smriti Irani Misled the Parliament on Rohith Vemula

Jai Bhim.

With that Radhika Vemula tore into Smriti Irani, and nailed the HRD Minister’s theatrical, patronizing and factually misleading speech in the Parliament.

Responding to the opposition’s charge of “undue interference in the functioning of Central universities”, Irani delivered a speech endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted “Satyamev Jayate” to acknowledge it.

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But there were several nuances glossed over by Irani when she gave an account of the events surrounding Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

Here are 4 instances.

1. No Doctor, No Police Allowed to Resusciate Rohith

Smriti Irani said she was quoting a Telangana police report that claimed that no medical officer was allowed near Rohith’s body for nearly twelve hours.

“His body was used a political tool”, she thundered in Parliament to cries of ‘Shame!’ ‘Shame!’ from the government benches. She even suggested that there was a possibility that Rohith could’ve been saved.

Fact-Check: Doctors, Police were Present

The university’s medical officer Dr P Rajshree was the first to dispute the Minister’s claim.

I am a medical doctor and I have enough experience and competence to examine and determine if a person can be revived. In my opinion, Rohith was dead for probably 2-3 hours by the time he was found.

Raja Vemula was at the scene an hour after his brother’s body was discovered and says he was witness to the hostel room swarming with doctors and police officials.

Speaking to The Quint, Raja asks, “How can she say that no one was allowed in by the students? I have one question for Modi sir, how can you allow a liar and an actor like Smriti Irani to be responsible for a prestigious ministry like HRD?”

2. “SC/ST Representative in the Council that Suspended Rohith”

Smriti Irani claims that her ministry co-opted a Dalit representative in the Executive Panel that suspended Rohith and four other students. “This”, she said “was done to ensure fair representation to the protesting students”, and added that it was this Dalit member who informed the students of their suspension.

Counter-Claim: No Dalit Representation

Addressing the media on Friday, Dontha Prashant, who was suspended along with Rohith, refuted Smriti Irani’s claim.

“Of the eleven members on this Executive Council, no one is a Dailt”, he said, showing the minutes of the meeting that suspended him.

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3. “Zero Government Interference”

Smriti Irani claims that the Executive Council that suspended Rohith Vemula was constituted by the UPA and that the government had no interference in the functioning of this panel.

Counter Claim: VC is a BJP Appointee

Protesting students claim Prof Appa Rao Podile was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of University on Hyderabad on 21 September 2015 with due sanction from the HRD ministry under Smriti Irani. Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile heads the Executive Council that suspended Rohith Vemula.

Counter-Claim: Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya was Pressurising the VC

The protesting students also quoted from a letter addressed to Prof Appa Rao from an HRD official that refers to a letter written by Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya, asking him to personally look into the matter.

“This”, Prashant says “indicates that the V-C was under pressure from the Central government to act against us”.

Bandaru Dattatreya (left) and deceased scholar Rohith Vemula. (Photo: The Quint)

4. Claim: Rohith Vemula Not a Dalit

The Telangana government has filed a report that states Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit and belonged to the OBC category.

Rohit Vemula and the room in which he ended his life. (Photo: TNM)

Counter-Claim: Rohith Belongs to the SC/ST Community

Rohith’s family strongly objects to the focus on Rohith’s caste, and questions the Telangana police’s authority to investigate a person’s caste.

It’s the job of the Magistrate to ascertain caste. And we already have a certificate that states that Rohith is a Dalit.

Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula was adopted by a family that belonged to the Vaddera community that are counted among the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. After an abusive marriage, she left with her two sons to eke out a living and identified herself as an SC, the caste she was born in.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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