Hyderabad: Rahul Gandhi today went on a day- long fast at Hyderabad Central University backing protesting students on the Dalit scholar suicide issue and accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS of trying to crush the spirit of students by imposing “one idea from the top”.
“My main opposition to Mr.Narendra Modi and RSS is that they are trying to crush the spirit of Indian students and youngsters by imposing one idea from the top,” the Congress Vice President said.
Drawing parallel between Rohith’s suicide and Mahatma Gandhi’s assasination, he said “what has happened here is exactly what was done to Gandhiji”.
“Gandhiji was killed by the same forces which did not allow him to speak the truth he wanted to say. It is exactly the same thing that has happened to Rohith…they did not want him to speak the truth that he saw in this institution,” he said.
Insisting that the incident is not related to one individual or any one particular community, Rahul told the students,”You will find one day that the same people who crushed Rohith will be blocking your path to freedom and progress”.
“My message to every single student of this country is- when you let what happened to Rohith happen, it will happen to you one day,” he said..
Rahul first joined agitating students in a candle light vigil past midnight to mark the birthday of Rohith, who would have turned 27 today, and later went on a nearly nine-hour fast with them.
“Do not force your idea on these students. Give them their dignity and respect. I want to say without any animosity & with respect- Modiji, if you want India to progress,you have to unleash the power of these students. If they are feeling discriminated in their universities and their colleges, you will not be able to unleash the power of these students,” he said.
Rahul also advocated that a law be enacted to end massive discrimination in our universities.
“It is time for India to have a law that targets such discrimination in all universities and institutions,” he said asking the PM to look into the possibility of passing such a law.
Rahul, who is visiting the campus for the second time in as many weeks, tweeted, “I am here today at the request of Rohith’s friends and family, to stand with them in their fight for justice.
“A young life full of dreams and aspirations was cut short. We owe it to him, to the memory of (Mahatma) Gandhiji and to every single Indian student who dreams of an India free from prejudice and injustice,” he said in another tweet.
Rohith’s mother Radhika and brother Raju were also present at the protest site.
In Delhi, three Union Ministers accused Congress of shedding “crocodile tears” over the suicide issue and attacked Rahul for using students as a “political tool”.
Rahul, who arrived here at 12.10 AM, spoke to the agitating students and lit candles before Rohith’s picture.
“We owe it to him (Rohith), to the memory of Gandhiji and to every single Indian student who dreams of an India free from prejudice and injustice,” he said.
“If you are in India where discrimination is taking place, where people are being crushed because of where they come from, who they are, what religion they belong to, you will never be able to build a modern economy. It is a fantasy,” he said.
He said that the idea of ‘Make in India’ has to be interlinked to issues like discrimination. “These are not separate ideas,” he said.
Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said nine cases of Dalit student suicides had taken place in the campus during the UPA rule but Rahul never bothered to go there.
“Congress is shedding crocodile tears simply to gain political mileage… This is part of their anti-Modi campaign across the country,” he told reporters.
Also attacking Rahul, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said,”Exams are nearing in Hyderabad (university). All the students are busy with studies. The government has (already) announced judicial probe into the matter. Peace has been restored there. (In such times), Rahul Gandhi ji is politicising the issue.”
Rural Development Minister Birender Singh also took a pot-shot at Rahul, saying the “the party which has been reduced to 44 MPs from 206 MPs in Lok Sabha is politicising every issue”.
As students raised slogans against Irani and Dattatreya, Rahul intervened and politely told them not to shout ‘murdabad’. “Let us not say ‘murdabad’ to somebody,” he said.
Hitting back at the BJP, Congress accused it of failing to initiate action against its leaders including Union ministers for the suicide of the Dalit scholar.
“Who has resorted to politics in the matter? It is the BJP. Union Minister Dattatreya wrote to HRD Minister Irani against the dalit students following complaint from the ABVP President. The HRD Minister wrote as many as five letters to the University,” senior party spokesman Ajay Maken said.
Activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) protested against Rahul’s visit even as it called for a “bandh” in Telangana colleges.
Velpula Sunkanna, one of the research scholars whose suspension was revoked recently, said Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile should be removed from the VC post.
“On January 17, we have filed SC/ST Atrocities case against Appa Rao and (five) others. These six people should be arrested immediately. Thats the only demand,” Sunkanna, who is on an indefinite fast along with Vijay Kumar (another scholar whose suspension was revoked), said.
Vemula was found hanging in the varsity’s hostel room on January 17.
The Congress Vice President had earlier visited the University on January 19 following the suicide by the Dalit scholar and met the agitating students and the family members of Vemula.