Emphasising that his ministers got five dalit scholars banished from Central University, Hyderabad, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on 19 January said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise to the nation.
He said this in the context of dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide, even as protests continued in Hyderabad.
Taking to micro-blogging site, Twitter, Kejriwal tweeted, “Modi government is duty bound to uplift dalits. Instead his ministers got five dalit students ostracised and suspended.”
Stating that it is a murder of democracy, social justice and equality, Kejriwal said that it is nothing but murder. The chief minister also demanded Modi either remove the five ministers immediately or apologise to the people.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was preparing to leave for Hyderabad in order to make common cause with the protesting students on 19 January. Party sources said besides addressing the students at the university, where the deceased Vemula was a research scholar, Gandhi will also interact with Vemula’s mother, Radhika.
Senior party leader Digvijiya Singh will accompany Gandhi during his visit. It is also seen as an effort by the party to pressurise the BJP-led NDA government over the dalit issue.
Stating that politics should not be played in such delicate cases, social justice minister Thawarchand Gehlot was speaking on the visit by Gandhi to Hyderabad to express solidarity with the students in the wake of Vemula’s suicide.
“We are collecting information,” he said and assured that “justice will be done”. The HRD ministry, on its part, has constituted a two-member fact finding team, while Gehlot also sought a report from Telangana government into the incident.
All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said Dalit students were treated in the worst possible manner and alleged the BJP-led government was trying to turn the campuses into ABVP dens.
Meanwhile, Telangana Jagruti Yuva Morcha protested outside labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya’s residence in Hyderabad on 19 January.
The issue gained political colour when Dattatreya allegedly asked for such an action as had a bias against dalits. He had written to the HRD minister in a letter in which he called them “casteist” and “anti-national”.
Defending the decision to suspend Vemula and others, Dattatreya said, “They were working against the institution’s decorum.”