Protests over alleged suicide by a Dalit research scholar in Hyderabad University continued in the national capital today with youth wings of various parties including AAP and Congress hitting the streets demanding resignation of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya.
The protesters blamed “interference” in internal matters of the Hyderabad University by Irani and Dattatreya for the incident and called the student’s suicide an “institutional murder”.
While protesters from Congress affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) marched to HRD ministry shouting slogans against the government, those from AAP’s Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar here.
They were joined by left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) and Students Federation fo India (SFI).
“We are absolutely convinced that the HRD Ministry has directly interfered in the matter that has led to the suicide. There were five letters sent from the MHRD to the varsity seeking immediate action on the Dalit students following the letter to the MHRD by Bandaru Dattatreya. This is not a suicide but a case of institutional murder,” NSUI President Roji M John alleged.
The protesters staged a demonstration outside Shastri Bhawan which houses the HRD ministry following which 27 of them were detained by police.
AAP leaders Ashutosh and Dileep Pandey joined the CYSS protesters at Jantar Mantar who reiterated their demand for an independent probe into the matter.
“The leaders consider them (dalits) to be their enemies and anti-nationalists. We demand that Dattatreya should be arrested immediately and he should be ousted out of the Cabinet.
“Smriti Irani has a suspicious role in this and her role should also be probed. An independent commission with the presence of Supreme Court judges should be set up to investigate the matter and submit its report,” Ashutosh said while addressing the gathering.
The AISA and SFI staged silent protests and conducted candle light vigils at Jantar Mantar demanding that the ministers as well as the Vice Chancellor be held accountable for the tragedy.
26-year-old Vemula Rohit, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at the Central University’s hostel room in the campus on Sunday.
He 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. The suspension was revoked later.
Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor were named in an FIR over the death of the scholar, which triggered massive protests and demands for their removal from their posts.
The issue also took a political turn with allegations that the extreme action was a result of discrimination against Dalit students at the behest of Dattatreya, who had written a letter to Irani, seeking action against their “anti-national acts”.
The HRD ministry has constituted a two-member fact finding team to look into the the incident.
As many as 115 students were detained yesterday after violent protest outside the HRD Ministry over the death of the scholar.