New Delhi, Jan.20 (ANI): The Congress Party on Wednesday demanded an apology from Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani over her assertion that the suicide of Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit versus a non-Dalit confrontation and said that her argument only exposes the BJP’s anti-SC, anti-poor and intolerant mindset.
“Her argument of Dalit vs Non Dalit exposes the anti-SC, anti-poor and intolerant mindset of the BJP even further. We ask her to apologise,” Congress spokesperson Deepender Hooda told ANI.
“She should read the letter written on December 18, 2015, wherein Rohith wrote to the VC alleging the derogatory remarks that the ABVP activists were hurling at the SC students in the university. We completely disagree with the kind of defence and arguments which she has provided and we want action to be taken,” he added.
The Rohtak MP further said that Irani was just trying to pass the buck on Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya.
“Smriti Irani saying that she is bound by certain rules and protocols that if an MP or a minister writes to her, she has to forward that letter to the University, she cannot hide behind that rule or protocol because saying that Bandaru Dattatreya has asked her to do something wrong but she just passed on is no excuse. Being a minister, she has to apply her mind,” he said.
“She is just trying to pass the buck on Bandaru Dattatreya. I am not satisfied by this answer at all. She has to take responsibility for her own decisions and her ministers’ decisions,” he added.
Earlier, the HRD Minister asserted the suicide of Rohith was not a Dalit versus a non-Dalit confrontation and attempts were being made to ‘ignite passion’ in the case of the Dalit scholar’s death across communities.
“This is not a Dalit versus non-Dalit issue as some people are trying to portray. There has been a malice attempt to ignite passions and present this as a caste battle it is not. This is an issue which is being investigated by local police and sub judice in the High Court,” she told the media here.
She alleged that the suicide note of Rohith, which was being circulated across the media, was not the authorized copy and read out a quote from the original letter in which no political organisation or politician was being held responsible for his fate.
She also attempted to shift the blame on the previous UPA regime and said things would have been in place at the moment had the Congress taken action then.
Irani attempted to defend Bandaru Dattatreya, who has been charged with abetting Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
The HRD Minister drew the attention of the media to the letter written by Congress MP Hanumantha Rao and said that he wanted a probe to be ordered on the death of students from the Telangana region.
“Bandaru Dattatreya was not the only MP, who had raised concerns about the University of Hyderabad. I am in possession of a letter written by Shri Hanumantha Rao ji, Congress MP, on November 17, 2014. In this letter, he had claimed that in the past four years, not the present VC but the earlier VC appointed by the Congress Government, there have been suicides by the students from the Telangana region who were from marginalized communities,” said Irani.
“He has in his letter to the ministry written that he wants a probe to be ordered,” she added, while asserting that the University had been asked to give a clarification in this regard.
The Congress has been demanding the resignations of the HRD Minister, Minister of State for Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao over the Dalit scholar’s suicide.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who visited the University of Hyderabad yesterday, said that the varsity Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya created the situation that made Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar studying there, kill himself.
“I agree with the students here. Rohith committed suicide but the conditions for his suicide were created by the VC and the minister,” Gandhi said.
Vemula, who belonged to Guntur district of Amravati, was found hanging in his hostel room on Sunday. He was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies for the past two years.
The protests escalated yesterday over Rohith’s suicide with activists demonstrating outside the residence of Dattatreya, who has been accused of abetment of the Dalit scholar’s suicide and demanded his resignation. (ANI)