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.
Under 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.
Kejriwal 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.
BJP 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.
The 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.