Update: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today targeted Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide by a Dalit scholar saying the Ministers and the Vice Chancellor have “not acted fairly” that forced him to take the extreme step.
He flew from Delhi in the morning and drove straight from the airport to the University campus where he addressed the agitating students.
Gandhi alleged that the institution instead of operating fairly has used its power to “crush” the freedom of students to express.
“The Vice Chancellor and the Minister in Delhi have have not acted fairly. What is the result. The result is that the youth, who came here to improve the country, to learn and to express himself was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.
“Certainly he has committed suicide but conditions for his suicide were created by the Vice Chancellor, the minister and the institution,” he told the students, one of whom said before his speech that they did not want any politicising of the issue.
He demanded “strictest punishment” for Vice-Chancellor and the minister holding them “responsible” for the death of the research scholar.
Gandhi, however, did not name Irani who had over the weekend attacked him in Amethi accusing him of failure in addressing issues of youth in his constituency.
After meeting the students, Gandhi upped the ante against Irani and Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor, by observing in a tweet: The VC and Union Ministers in Delhi have not acted fairly. This youngster was put in so much pain that he had no option but to kill himself.”
The dalit student Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on Sunday night, was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on a student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel.
Union Labour Minister Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others were yesterday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the dalit student.
Hyderabad: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the University of Hyderabad on Tueday and said that the university VC and a union minister 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,” Rahul Gandhi told students in an address after he met with Rohith’s mother.
The Congress politician also spoke about how students should be able to express themselves freely in a university atmosphere. “The idea of a university is knowledge. When you try and impose only one certain kind of idea on all students, you harm the passion that various students possess,” the Congress vice-president said.
Upholding the demand of agitating students, Rahul Gandhi insisted that the family of Rohith Vemula be “compensated” while the “people responsible for Rohith’s death be subjected to strict punishment”.
Gandhi said that he didn’t come to Hyderabad as a politician but as a young person. “I want to make sure that everyone can proudly speak his mind,” he said. “My door is always open for Rohith’s family and all other students protesting here, I shall help you in every way possible,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Meanwhile, protests escalated on Tuesday over the alleged suicide by a dalit research scholar with activists demonstrating outside the residence of Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who has been accused of abetment of Rohith’s suicide, demanding his immediate resignation.
The protestors demanded that the minister resign immediately.
“Thirty seven of the protesters were taken into preventive custody when they held a dharna near the Union minister’s house,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Zone) VB Kamalasan Reddy said. They were later let off.
On the university campus, scores of students, who intensified their protests, demanded that Dattatreya, BJP MLC Ramchander Rao, university’s vice chancellor P Appa Rao and two ABVP leaders, against whom cases were registered for abetting suicide of Rohit, be jailed.
Raising slogans like “We want justice”, they held Dattatreya and others responsible for Rohit’s death and took out a rally on the campus.
Resignation of the vice-chancellor, immediate revocation of suspension of the four students by the university, employment to a member of Rohit’s family, an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh were among the other demands made by the agitators.
Rohit was among the five research scholars who were suspended by the university in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on a student leader.
A two-member Trinamool Congress delegation led by party MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien is going to Hyderabad this evening to express solidarity with the students protesting against the alleged suicide.
Earlier, speaking to reporters on the University campus, Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao alleged that university Vice Chancellor Appa Rao was responsible for the suicide of the student, and demanded his suspension.
He further alleged that a “social boycott” was imposed on the students (who were suspended earlier), including the dalit research scholar who allegedly committed suicide.
A group of students was also trying to install a memorial for the deceased student, Rohit, on the campus.
“We are going to keep the university shut till all our demands are met,” a girl student said and alleged the whole development betrayed the “casteist mentality” prevailing in the higher echelons of the society.
Another student said, “No assault took place against any ABVP leader, including Sushil Kumar. There is a political agenda. Why he (Dattatreya) is interested in writing letters against our students to the HRD.”
Meanwhile, in Pune, the students of FTII sat on a day-long hunger strike outside the institute’s gate here, expressing “solidarity” with students protesting over the alleged suicide. The hunger strike started with eight students and slowly other students too are joining the protest, FTII Students’ Association president Harishankar Nachimuthu said.
Another students’ body representative Yashaswi Mishra said, “We feel that the unfortunate incidents like death of Rohit Vemula is an institutional murder. The very ideology that led to this devastating tragedy has to be fought across. We stand together with the students’ community fighting for quality of education, beyond caste, class and biases.”