The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Party on Wednesday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to divert the issue by saying that the suicide committed by Rohith Vemula was ‘not a Dalit versus a non-Dalit confrontation’.
“The BJP is trying to divert the issue. It is Dalit vs Non-Dalit. But it is beyond that now,” TMC leader Derek O’Brien told ANI.
“It is a confrontation between injustice and justice. It is a confrontation between tolerance and intolerance. The truth has to come out. The boys and the girls in the agitation have shown us the documents and they are damning,” he added.
Earlier, the under-fire Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani asserted that the suicide of Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit versus a non-Dalit confrontation and attempts were being made to ‘ignite passion’ in the case of the Dalit scholar’s death across communities.
“This is not a Dalit versus non-Dalit issue as some people are trying to portray. There has been a malice attempt to ignite passions and present this as a caste battle it is not. This is an issue which is being investigated by local police and sub judice in the High Court,” she said.
She also attempted to shift the blame on the previous UPA regime and said things would have been in place at the moment had the Congress taken action then.
Irani attempted to defend Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya, who has been charged with abetting Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
Meanwhile, the Congress Party demanded an apology from her over her assertion and said that her argument only exposes the BJP’s anti-SC, anti-poor and intolerant mindset.
“Her argument of Dalit vs Non Dalit exposes the anti-SC, anti-poor and intolerant mindset of the BJP even further. We ask her to apologise,” Congress spokesperson Deepender Hooda told ANI.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who visited the University of Hyderabad yesterday, said that the varsity Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya created the situation that made Rohith, a Dalit scholar studying there, kill himself.
“I agree with the students here. Rohith committed suicide but the conditions for his suicide were created by the VC and the minister,” Gandhi said.
Urging the media not to misconstrue facts, Irani said, “The fact of the matter is an MP wrote to us based on certain observations and we within ministry forwarded that observation for the response from the university. Do not ignite passions by naming a particular caste.”
Vemula, who belonged to Guntur district of Amravati, was found hanging in his hostel room on Sunday. He was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies for the past two years.
The protests escalated yesterday over Rohith’s suicide with activists demonstrating outside the residence of Dattatreya, who has been accused of abetment of the Dalit scholar’s suicide and demanded his resignation.