Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday addressed a gathering of students at the University of Hyderabad campus and asked Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani to apologize for “playing caste politics” over Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also demanded the dismissal of the vice chancellor of Hyderabad University over the suicide of the scholar.
“The VC should be removed immediately,” Arvind Kejriwal said to applause from the students who have been holding protests ever since Vemula took his life on Sunday after being suspended from the university.
“Our second demand is that Smriti Irani tried to play dirty caste politics (on Wednesday). She must seek forgiveness from the country.”
Kejriwal said he was ready to stage a sit-in at Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao’s office to seek his ouster but was advised against it by the student community.
Vemula’s suicide has sparked major protests in the university. He was suspended and his stipend blocked after he and his friends were accused of assaulting an ABVP student leader.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is the student wing of the RSS and is allied to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Quoting medical reports and an affidavit filed by the university registrar, Kejriwal insisted that the allegation of assault on the ABVP leader was concocted.
He particularly blamed central minister and BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya for calling Vemula and his friends “anti-national, casteist and extremist” — allegations which led the university to act against Vemula.
“It is a matter of shame that a responsible central minister, without inquiring about the facts, had concluded that the Ambedkar student group of which Vemula was a member was casteist and anti-national.”
“Vemula was the son of a farm worker who joined the university on the strength of his academic merit. When such bright students have to commit suicide, it is a shame on the entire society,” Arvind Kejriwal said.