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Dalit scholar's death: Student leaders, Congress MP reject Irani's statement

Source: PTI
January 21, 2016 02:12 IST
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Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has made a 'wrong statement' regarding the protests in HyderabadCentralUniversity over the suicide of a Dalit scholar and the ongoing row in the institution, student leaders spearheading the agitation claimed on Wednesday.

"We would like refute each and every point," a leader of the agitating students said.

The students held consultations after Irani addressed a press conference in New Delhi.

He said the Dalit and student movements have come together in the university following the alleged suicide of Rohith Vemula.

The minister mentioned that an executive council in the university had Dalit representatives but the body only had a co-opted SC member, he said.

On Irani's statement that a Congress leader (MP V Hanumantha Rao) had also written on issues concerning the university, he said the minister should direct the university to implement the SC and ST sub-plan.

The minister stated that the suicide note of Rohith was the only document made available to her but the deceased had written to the vice chancellor earlier, he said.

The issues should not be made a Bharatiya Janata Party versus Congress issue as it is an issue of Rohith’s suicide and human rights, he said.

The minister described the punishment given to the student as ‘lenient’ but ‘social boycott’ and ‘institutional murder’ cannot be ‘lenient’, the student leader said.

The students demanded the arrest of all those figuring in the FIR including vice chancellor Appa Rao Podile.

The protesting students also burnt an effigy of the minister inside the campus.

Meanwhile, Hanumantha Rao hit back at Irani saying the young Dalit student would not have taken his life had the HRD ministry taken ‘appropriate steps’ on his letter.

“The minister (Smriti Irani) had received my letter in November 2014 itself. (But) She did not bother about my letter all these days. What were she and the government doing all these days? She remembered my letter only when (Union minister Bandaru) Dattatreya also wrote a letter. Had the government acted on my letter, Rohith would not have taken such an extreme step,” Rao, a Rajya Sabha MP, said.

Dismissing allegations that a letter written by him to Union HRD ministry led to the suspension of the five scholars, Dattatreya sought to clarify that he merely forwarded a representation given to him by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

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

Expressing ‘deep shock’ over the scholar’s demise, Dattatreya said he would have forwarded the representation in the same way had they been given by any student groups.

‘My role was only limited to forwarding these two representations. I would have happily forwarded representations of any other student body, if they had approached me,’ he said hoping that the matter now will rest with this clarification.

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