Rohit suicide: BJP big guns may be forced to step in; Bandaru clarifies, Jha laments, Smriti in the line of fire

Rohit suicide: BJP big guns may be forced to step in; Bandaru clarifies, Jha laments, Smriti in the line of fire
Rohit suicide: BJP big guns may be forced to step in; Bandaru clarifies, Jha laments, Smriti in the line of fire

New Delhi, January 21, 2016

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Hyderabad University, Appa Rao, is likely get the boot over the suicide of Dalit students Rohit Vemula after a two-member fact-finding committee of the Human resource ministry has blamed the University administration for mishandling the entire situation that led to the suspension of Rohit and others.

Sources said that the committee submitted its report to the HRD minister Smriti Irani on Thursday night. The committee has not recommended the removal of the VC, sources said, but the content of its report is likely to come handy for the HRD to get rid of Rao.

Rao has the dubious track record of unfairly treating Dalit students in the past also. The government, which has so far tacitly backed the VC, has few options but to make him the villain of the piece to deflect attention from the demand for removal of Irani and minister of state for labor Bandaru Dattatreya.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]ources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was himself seized with the situation and was considering tough action to send a message that his government and the party was not anti-dalit. Removal of the VC will be first action in that direction.

Earlier, the Hyderabad University on Thursday revoked the suspension of four Dalit research scholars, but students continued to protest for the fifth day over the suicide of a Dalit student who too had been suspended.

Addressing the protesting students at the campus, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack his ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide by Rohith Vemula.

And protesting against Human Resource Development Minister Irani’s “misleading” statement, 10 Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe teachers quit their administrative roles.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]U[/dropcap]nder attack, the university’s executive council decided to revoke the suspension of four students who along with Rohith were suspended in November after an alleged clash with an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader. The ABVP is the student wing of the RSS.

“After taking into account the extraordinary situation in the university, it resolved to terminate the punishment imposed on the students with immediate effect,” a university statement said.

Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao urged the university community to maintain harmony.

Slamming Irani’s statement that a Dalit headed the committee which expelled the five Dalit students including Vemula, 10 teachers quit their administrative posts and joined the students on protest.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]K[/dropcap]ejriwal visited the campus and sought the dismissal of Irani and Minister of State for Labour Dattatreya whose letters to the HRD ministry on the alleged assault on the ABVP leader reportedly forced the university to suspend Vemula – son of a farm worker – and the others.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader also asked Irani to apologize for “playing dirty caste politics” over Vemula’s suicide. Modi “should dismiss both the ministers”, he said to applause.

He demanded that Irani’s name should be included in the FIR filed against Dattetreya, the vice chancellor and two ABVP leaders.

In New Delhi, the AAP demanded the arrest of Dattatreya, the BJP MP from Secunderabad.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]JP ally and Lok Janshakti Party MP Chirag Paswan also demanded a probe into a letter written by Dattatreya to the HRD ministry ahead of the Dalit research scholar’s suicide.

“The suicide should be probed by an independent agency, which should decide who it should be probing. Those found guilty must not be spared, no matter how influential they are,” he said.

The Congress called for Irani’s dismissal from the cabinet for misleading people about the suicide.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said in New Delhi that the “anti-Dalit mindset of the BJP and the RSS” had manifested itself over the last 20 months in various forms across the country.

He said Dattatreya, “on whose letter the HRD ministry pressurised for the expulsion of the five PhD Dalit students”, should also be booted out of the cabinet.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he BJP hit back, accusing the Congress of “giving a communal colour or caste angle” to every untoward incident in the country. “It is very unfortunate,” BJP national secretary Srikant Sharma said.

Sharma also demanded to know why Kejriwal, who visited Hyderabad, did not “meet even one family of dengue victims in Delhi”.

“They (AAP) are silent over law and order issues in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. But they blame the centre for issues it is not even responsible. It proves their dishonesty,” he said.

New Delhi, January 20


[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]s the protests over the suicide of a Dalit student of the Hyderabad University intensified and several BJP leaders and NDA allies like Ramvilas Paswan squirmed over the adverse political fallout of the development, all eyes will be on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for tackling the situation that could impact the party’s prospects in four upcoming assembly polls.

Few BJP leaders have come out in open to defend beleaguered Human Resources Minister Smirit Irani whose ministry wrote as many as five letters to the Vice chancellor of the University to address the complaints of another minister, Bandaru Dattatreya, against a group of students who had allegedly attacked some ABVP followers on the campus.

Obviously no vice chancellor can be expected to ignore the “missive” behind such repeated letters. In this case, VC Appa Rao, who has a track record of acting harsh against dalit students, picked up the cues and suspended Rohit Vemula and several others.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ith protests spreading through campuses across the country and the entire issue taking a political turn, the PM and Amit Shah may be forced to step in and do a damage control exercise. In the past too, the BJP has courted controversy over anti-dalit stands of its leaders. Union minister VK Singh’s remark comparing dalits to dogs, had created a furor even though the minister did his best to clarify that it was an unintended simile.

With the entire opposition jumping into the massive controversy, the Government may have to pull its act together and take some sort of action—even symbolic—to douse the flame of protest. To start with the VC might have to be given marching orders sooner rather than later.

Sources said that the PM and Shah were keeping a close watch on the developments and getting regular feedback to find ways to contain the situation. As part of the strategy the BJP is unlikely to go on offensive against the protesting dalit students.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]M[/dropcap]eanwhile, protests continued unabated on Thursday at the University of Hyderabad, with the teachers slamming union minister Smriti Irani’s statement that a Dalit headed the committee which expelled five students.

Angry over the human resource development minister’s statement made on Wednesday, the teachers from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes threatened to quit their administrative posts.

Both the teachers and students picked many holes in the minister’s statement and described it as “misleading” and “far from truth”.

Students, continuing their indefinite protest, including hunger strike by seven of them, burnt effigy of Irani to condemn her remarks.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]C/ ST teachers and officers’ forum came down heavily on her for the claim that a Dalit headed the sub-committee of the sub-committee of executive council, which suspended five Dalit research scholars in November last.

Thrown out of their hostel and facing “social boycott” on the campus, the five students were on a protest at a makeshift tent in the campus for 15 days. One of them, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide on January 17.

The forum pointed out that it was Vipin Srivastava, professor of physics, who headed the six-member committee and not a Dalit as claimed by Irani.

Only one Dalit was part of the panel and that too as a co-opted member, who has no decision making power, said the forum.

Professor P. Prakash Babu, Dean, Students’ Welfare, was the co-opted member. Babu heads the SC/ST forum.

The minister told a news conference on Wednesday that the warden of the hostel from where the students were expelled was also a Dalit.

To this the forum said the warden enjoys no power to expel any student and he merely implemented an order given by his superior.

It’s pathetic: Prakash Jha

Kolkata: Filmmaker Prakash Jha, known for his politically charged movies, on Wednesday said it was sad that a Dalit student chose death over life.

“… a student felt death is better than life. What kind of a situation he was in that drove him to commit suicide… it is pathetic,” Jha told the media when asked about his views on the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula.

In the city to promote “Jai Gangajal”, Jha said he had put together a research team which found that there was one suicide every 10-15 days in Kota in Rajasthan, known as the hub for tutorials and coaching classes.

“I am worried about it. Why have we stopped studying humanities? Every student either wants to become a manager or an engineer,” he lamented.

Asked whether he would be making a film based on his research, Jha said: “I am not sure, it may take a few years.”

(IANS)

Bandaru Dattatreya’s statement:

With students continuing their protests on the campus, the university remained shut for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday.

Politicians and leaders of various people’s organisations continue to pour in to express solidarity with the protesting students.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are scheduled to visit the university on Thursday.

In another development, Dattatreya has broken his silence over the entire controversy and claimed he had merely forwarded certain representation he had received from the students to the Union HRD ministry.

Here is the full text of press Statement issued by Bandaru Dattatreya, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labor & Employment, Government of India .

I have expressed my deep shock on learning about the death of Hyderabad University research scholar Sri Rohit Vemula and I wish his family condolences and the strength to withstand & overcome this tragic loss.

Apart from being a Union Minister, I am also an elected member of parliament from Secunderabad constituency. Since my entry into politics in 80’s, I have always been a leader connected to the masses & to all sections of the society on a daily basis, whether or not in any positions of power. Taking representations from common people, constituents & forwarding it to concerned ministries is what I consider my earnest responsibility by being an elected people’s representative.

In this current issue being raised by media, I wish to clarify the below points:

  1. On the 10th August 2015, I received a representation on the state of affairs in the University of Hyderabad which disturbed me greatly and I forwarded the same to the MOHRD. In the hope that things in the campus would change for better.

  2. On 29th August 2015 I received a second representation in this and this too I forwarded to the MoHRD with a request, to look into the matter & to do the needful.

  3. The University of Hyderabad, is an autonomous institution with established procedures and I have no role in the administration of the University.

  4. My role was only limited to forwarding these two representations. I would have happily forwarded representations of any other student body, if they were to have approached me. I hope the matter now will rest with this clarification.

Regards,
Bandaru Dattatreya

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