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BJP ministers, university VC left Rohith with no option: Rahul

January 19, 2016 16:54 IST

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday 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.

Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi interacting with students at the Hyderabad Central University. Photograph: OfficeofRG/Twitter.

He flew in to Hyderabad 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 vhancellor 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 the vice chancellor and the minister holding them "responsible" for the death of the research scholar.

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."

Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi interacts with the grieving mother of Rohith Vemula, a doctorate student at the Hyderabad Central University who was found hanging in a hostel room. Photograph: OfficeofRG/Twitter.

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 on Monday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the Dalit student.

The Congress vice president said there is "no question of the vice chancellor remaining" and criticised him severely for not even meeting the mother of the deceased.

"There are certain people responsible for it. Vice Chancellor is among them. The minister is among them," Gandhi said, insisting that whoever is responsible for this outcome has to be punished in strictest terms.

The Congress vice President also chose the occasion to flag the need for a legislation to protect the interests of the students.

"We should not let the ball fall here. We should keep the flag up. In the future, we should create a legislation, a law which gives certain minimum rights to every Indian student, minimum rights with regard to the freedom of ideas and expression.

"One can express those ideas regardless of who they are, what caste they are, where they come from, what religion they have," Gandhi said.

Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi interacting with students at the Hyderabad Central University. Photograph: OfficeofRG/Twitter.

In a series of other tweets, Gandhi said, "Any student can come to the University- whether he belongs to any caste or religion. He should feel that I can say what I want to say. The idea of a University is that young people can come and share their thoughts."

"These students were protesting against the unjust expulsion and social boycott of Dalit students on campus. Met students of the Ambedkar Students Association, Hyderabad University," he said in the other tweets.

"There are certain people who are responsible for this boy's death. The Vice-Chancellor is among them. The minister is among them and the people that have applied pressure on this boy from expressing his ideas are among them. Whoever is responsible for this "outcome" (the death) has to be punished in the strictest manner possible", he said.

Earlier, Gandhi, who was accompanied by senior Telangana Congress leaders, paid tributes to Vemula by garlanding a memorial "stupa" put up in the university. He also spent some time with family members of Vemula and consoled them.


BJP hits back at Rahul; says he is politicising the suicide

The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused Rahul of politicising the suicide of the Dalit student, and insisted that the issue had nothing to do with the victim being from the backward community.

BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao attacked Rahul Gandhi for "unprincipled" behaviour, saying that the same Congress which had "harassed" Dalit leader B R Ambedkar "all his life" was now trying to project itself as champion of Dalit cause.

He alleged that Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula's suicide has been made into political issue by "Congress, section of media and some groups with vested interests".

Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi interacting with students at the Hyderabad Central University. Photograph: OfficeofRG/Twitter.

Rao, in a series of tweets, said, "Suicide of Rohith Vemula has nothing to do with Dalit issues or rights just because he was a Dalit. It is merely politicising of the issue."

"Disciplinary action was taken against Rohith at the advice of the court and even a lenient stand was taken by University authorities by permitting him to enter the campus except the hostel," he said.

"Rahul Gandhi's hurried visit to Hyderabad is an unprincipled behaviour and it is unfortunate that a national political party stoops to such levels.

"Congress did gross injustice to Dr B R Ambedkar and harassed him all his life. Now Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh championing Dalit cause!!," he said.

Rao also hit out at the Delhi Chief Minister, saying, "Arvind Kejriwal, like always, is trying to fish in troubled waters in the politicized issue of Rohit Vemula suicide!"

He has even gone to the extent of demanding apology from the PM, the BJP leader said.

Defending the action against the student, Rao said, "The context of the clash between student groups was Rohith's stand in support of terrorism, including that against hanging of Yakub Memon."

The BJP leader, who hails from Telangana, said Rohith's suicide note is self revealing. "Connecting with incidents related to his ideological adversaries is baseless and orchestrated," he said.

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