Scholar’s suicide: Rahul seeks action against minister, VC

Hyderabad, Jan 19 (IANS) Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday sought action against union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the Hyderabad University vice chancellor and others allegedly responsible for the suicide of a Dalit research scholar.

“Whoever is responsible for this outcome has to be punished in strictest manner possible,” he said while addressing students at the University of Hyderabad premises, where Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide on Sunday due to suspension by the university along with four other students.

Without naming anybody, the Congress leader said the union minister in Delhi and the vice chancellor created conditions which led to the research scholar committing suicide.

“Certainly he has committed suicide but the conditions for his suicide have been created by the vice chancellor, the minister and the institution,” said the Congress leader while seeking immediate resignation of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao.

Gandhi, who spent nearly two hours meeting four other suspended Dalit students and consoling the family of Vemula, also demanded compensation to the family.

He also met students who are on hunger strike in support of their demands including Rs.5 crore compensation to the family and a job. His visit coincided with the arrival of two member committee sent by human resources development ministry to probe the suicide.

He said the compensation mean both financial help and the respect. “This boy was going to give them future… they have removed this boy. Now give them the future he would have given to them,” he said amid cheers by the students.

Gandhi came down heavily on the vice chancellor for not showing the bare minimum courtesy by meeting Rohith’s mother.

“The fact this gentleman has no decency and dignity to meet the mother is also an insult to the country, to the institution, every student and teacher,” he said.

Referring to the student leaders’ request that the issue should not be politicised, the Congress leaders said there is no question of politicising it “but what has happened here is that some youngsters wanted to express some ideas they have but the institution instead of operating fairly and instead of letting them speak has used power to crush them”.

“The vice chancellor and the minister in Delhi have not acted fairly… what is the result? This youngster who came here to improve this country, who came here to learn and express himself was put under so much pain he had no other option but to kill himself.”

Gandhi said that the idea of a university is that young people from various parts of the country come here and express whatever is there in their heart.

“The idea of a university is knowledge. When somebody tries to impose on youngsters one idea and tell them only this idea is acceptable, they cause tremendous pain to their passion,” he added

He assured the students that they were not alone and that this is happening in every university. “It is important that we carry this flag forward so that in future we bring a legislation that gives certain minimum rights to every single student.”

He said such a legislation should ensure autonomy of institution and should not allow the central government to impose anything.

“It should give minimum rights with regard to freedom of ideas and expression of those ideas regardless of who they are what caste, community and religion they come from.”

Earlier, activists of ABVP tried to stop Gandhi’s convoy when he reached Begumpet airport. Police arrested the protestors.

Students from Osmania University and other institutions, leaders of various Dalit and left groups also reached University of Hyderabad to show solidarity with students staging protest.

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