No caste angle to suicide of scholar, retorts govt
HYDERABAD DEATH Minister Smriti Irani calls it ‘an attempt to provoke students’
The BJPled central government launched a counteroffensive on Wednesday to blunt opposition attacks on two central ministers over a Dalit scholar’s suicide, as HRD minister Smriti Irani pointed towards a “malicious attempt” to project the issue as a caste battle.
Facing strong protests and demands for her resignation from opposition parties over Rohith Vemula’s death, Irani said this was being done to ignite passions for political gains, while labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya tried to distance himself from the controversy, saying he did not push the University of Hyderabad to suspend the student.
“This is not a Dalit versus nonDalit issue as being projected by some to ignite passion and there is a deliberate attempt to provoke students across the country,” Irani said in Delhi, while rejecting allegations that her ministry had put pressure on the university to suspend Vemula.
The Irani- led HRD ministry has been at the centre of a controversy after it emerged that it had written five letters to the university following Dattatreya’s complaint that the campus had turned into a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.
Irani, who addressed a press conference in Delhi, read out from the research scholar’s sui- cide note as well as other documents to drive home her points.
“The document which is being circulated as Rohith Vemula’s suicide note does not mention any name of MP or minister,” said Irani in response to allegations that Dattatreya’s complaint and the ministry’s follow-up had led to his suspension along with four other students. “An MP wrote about certain observations and we merely followed rules. Dattatreya himself is a Yadav.”