AAP protests, demands Dattatreya’s resignation and arrest

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New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The AAP on Tuesday protested over the suicide by a Dalit research scholar and demanded the resignation and arrest of union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the vice chancellor of the University of Hyderabad.

Over 300 supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi unit and its student wing, Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti, besides party leader Ashutosh and MLAs Sandeep Kumar and Rakhi Birla, gathered at the Jantar Mantar here.

“We demand the immediate resignation and arrest of union minister Bandaru Dattatreya for driving a Dalit student to suicide in Hyderabad,” AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh said at a press conference here.

He demanded that Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s role in the matter should also be investigated.

He said the party would launch a nationwide protest on January 21 against the alleged persecution of Dalit students that forced one of them to commit suicide.

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“The Dalits have faced persecution after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre. There are several instances, including those in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Haryana, where Dalits were targeted, persecuted and even murdered,” he added.

Ashutosh, while referring to the Dadri lynching, attacked the NDA government saying, “This government is neither for the minorities nor for the Dalits.”

“Today in this country, in the name of Hindutva ideology, there is no space left for any kind of protest. Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar in 1949 had warned the country about the RSS saying that they are a big threat to the nation.

“Today, we promise to follow the words of Ambedkar… We all will have to prepare ourselves to face a long fight against this Hindutva ideology party,” Ashutosh said at the protest at Jantar Mantar.

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He also demanded Smriti Irani’s resignation saying, “The PM continues to shield ministers who ostracize Dalits. The PM should sack Bandaru Dattatreya, and Smriti Irani’s role should be probed.”

Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in the New Research Scholars’ Hostel of the University of Hyderabad on Sunday. He was one of the five Dalit students suspended and expelled from the hostel and was staging a protest on the campus for the past 15 days.

Protests escalated in Hyderabad and cities across the country including in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai.

Student organisations including the All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI) and CYSS and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held protests at Jantar Mantar and at the HRD ministry in the capital demanding the sacking of the ministers and strong action against the vice chancellor.

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As many as 115 students were detained on Monday after a violent protest outside the HRD ministry.

Dattatreya and the vice chancellor were named in the FIR over the death, which triggered massive protests and demands for their removal from their posts.

Dattatreya had written a letter to Irani, seeking action against their “anti-national acts”.

The HRD ministry on Monday constituted a two-member fact finding team to look into the the incident.

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