‘Under fire’ Smriti Irani shifts blame on Congress

New Delhi, Jan.20 (ANI): Facing sharp criticism over the suicide of Dalit scholar at the University of Hyderabad, Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday 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 Minister of State for Labour 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.

Irani further silenced the opposition and asked as to why this issue was not taken up during the UPA regime.

“Why now? Why nobody in the Congress Party spoke then and now? It is not a debate that I want to indulge in. A student has died and I only want to talk about facts. If Congress had fixed it back then, possibly Rohith would have been alive today,” she added.

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.

The HRD Minister also urged the people to take responsibility and not ignite passion and then regret it later.

“Let us all take responsibility. It is very easy to ignite passion and then regret in leisure,” she said.

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, 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.

Urging the media not to misconstrue facts, she said, “The fact of the matter is an MP wrote to us based on certain observations and we within ministry forwarded that observation for the response from the university. Do not ignite passions by naming a particular caste.”

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)

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