Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sack HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and apologise to the nation over the alleged suicide by a Dalit student in Hyderabad university questioning their “interference” in the internal affairs of the institute.
Terming it as a “murder” of democracy, social justice and equality, Kejriwal said the incident, which sparked massive protests across the country, has shaken the “collective conscience” of the entire nation.
In a statement, Kejriwal said the “searing injustice” of depriving Rohit Vemula, the deceased, along with four other research scholars of their monthly stipends, library facilities, and their eventual suspension from the Hyderabad Central university, led him to take the extreme step.
“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is constitutionaly bound to protect the fundamental guarantees of the dalits, victims of historical discrimination and injustice. To this end the PM must ask this crucial question–
“What business do ministers have in interfering in the internal affairs of a University? How can a minister term young, bright students as anti-national, simply because they had an altercation with the ABVP? How can young Dalit students be socially ostracised and economically penalised by the University administration?” Kejriwal asked.
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 PhD scholar.
Vemula was among five research scholars who were suspended by the varsity in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of alleged assault on a ABVP leader. They were also kept out of the hostel.
Kejriwal alleged that the two Ministers “endorsed and abetted” the ABVP’s systematic campaign to “socially ostracise” the students and deny them “library facilities, deprive them of their monthly stipends, and finally have them suspended from the university itself.”
“In his poignant suicide note Rohith describes the opressive weight of caste-based prejudices that reduced him to his basic Dalit identity and refused to see the mind that yearned to touch the stars, learn about the wonder of nature and science,” said Kejriwal.
Earlier, Kejriwal tweeted, “Modi govt constitutionally duty bound to uplift dalits. Instead Modiji’s ministers got five dalit students ostracised and suspended.”
“It’s not suicide. It’s murder. It’s murder of democracy, social justice and equality. Modiji should sack ministers and apologise to the nation,” he said.
Senior AAP leader Ashutosh demanded a thorough probe into the matter including into the role of Irani. “The incident shows that Dalits and minorities are not safe under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP.”
Aam Aadmi Party will also hold a nation-wide protest over the incident on January 21.
“I strongly urge the PM to immediately sack the two ministers, order a high level judicial probe and personally tender an apology to the aggrieved family, the Dalit community and the people of this great country,” Kejriwal wrote.
Referring to the student’s alleged suicide note and letter to the Vice Chancellor, Kejriwal asked, “Can there be a greater indictment of the institutions of higher learning in our country – of our society?”
“It is unfortunate that the most basic rights guaranteed in our Constitution remain unacknowledged to this day. The Dalits have a constitutional right to the best opportunities of education and socio-economic advancement.