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Students say PM’s remarks ‘insulting’, vow to step up stir

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Terming as “insulting” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks over suicide of dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, agitating students of Hyderabad Central University today vowed to step up their stir and said the PM’s “inaction” reflected his “political interests”.

The students rejected an appeal by Minister of state for HRD Upendra Kushwaha who, on a visit to the city, asked them to call off their agitation and assured them of justice, a day after the Centre decided to set up a judicial commission to look into the suicide of Rohith following his suspension by the varsity.

Voicing “dissatisfaction” over remarks by Modi yesterday at a university in Lucknow, the Joint Action Council (JAC) spearheading the stir asked if the Prime Minister would now take action against his ministers.

“It is highly insulting to have received a condolence statement from Prime Minister Narenda Modi. He has referred to Rohith Vemula as Bharat Mata’s son. Joint Action Committee for Social Justice condemns in the strongest possible words, the appropriation of Rohith’s politics,” the JAC said in a statement.

“Rohith Vemula and the other socially boycotted stood always against the Hindutva and Manuvadi politics which the BJP ministers proudly stand for,” it said.

“It is under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Police brutally lathicharged the protesting students, male police officers manhandled women students and detained them. His complicity and inaction on the entire episode of events that unfolded in University of Hyderabad clearly reflects his political interests,” it alleged.

The outfit asked if Modi will “take action on the BJP ministers for the injustice meted out to Rohith Vemula and the other socially boycotted research scholars”.

Modi yesterday expressed grief over Rohith’s death saying he felt the pain.

“…When there is news that a youth of my country, Rohith, was forced to commit suicide, what his family must have gone through. Mother India has lost a son. There will be reasons, there will be politics (surrounding it) but the fact remains that a mother has lost her son. I feel the pain very well,” a visibly emotional Modi had said.

Meanwhile, the hunger strike by seven students entered the fourth day today while their colleagues continued other forms of protests.

G Prabhakar, one of the fasting students, said they would like to continue with the fast even as doctors expressed concern over their health.

“We want to continue (fast). Our demands not yet fulfilled. They say (Prime Minister) Modi talked in Lucknow yesterday and a judicial committee is appointed and all. You appoint a judicial commission, no problem, but take action against people who actually caused this death,” he said.

“(Vice Chancellor) Appa Rao, primary accused, dismiss from VC post. (Union Ministers) Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, who wrote letters to university, arrest them. Without arresting, these (judicial commission, etc) don’t give us confidence,” Prabhakar said.

The JAC said, “After killing Rohit, Appa Rao Podile has put these lives (of fasting students) in danger. JAC for Social Justice reiterates that students will intensify the ongoing struggle until all our five demands are met.”

The demands are removal of the Vice Chancellor, punishing those responsible for Rohith’s death, dropping the alleged false cases against students and unconditional revocation of their suspension, giving employment to a member of Rohith’s family and compensation of Rs 50 lakh to his kin.

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