New Delhi: Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s mother on Friday launched a no holds barred attack on Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, accusing her of resorting to “blatant lies” while talking in Parliament about her son’s suicide and that “life imprisonment” will not be enough for her and others “responsible” for his death.
Radhika Vemula, flanked by her other son Raja, said BJP will be “decimated to the ground” if Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not take any action against Irani and her ministerial colleague Bandaru Dattatreya who had written multiple letters to her seeking action against Rohith, alleging anti-national activities.
“Irani, this is not a small screen to act, this is real life. Bring out the facts, don’t fabricate them. How many parents you would like to suffer. Irani has lied multiple times while speaking on the issue in Parliament. Why has action not been taken against her,” she said at the press conference.
Speaking in Parliament, Irani had on Wednesday tried to deflect criticism and mounted a strident attack on the Opposition accusing it of “politicising” the PhD scholar’s death. She had said that the committee which acted against Rohith had a Dalit representative and that doctors were not allowed to revive him after he was found hanging.
Rohith’s brother Raja dubbed Irani’s comments as “blatant lies”, saying he reached the campus by 8:30pm and saw police and doctors where his body was kept.
“Even life imprisonment will not be enough for the ministers, Vice Chancellor and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists who were responsible for my son’s death. BJP will be decimated to the ground if Modi does not address the issues. We demand formation of an SIT to probe the case,” Radhika said. Rohith’s friend Prashant, who was also expelled by the Hyderabad University, cited minutes of the Executive Council meeting of Hyderabad University, claiming that action was taken against them “in response” to communication from the HRD Ministry to not allow the students to continue academic activities.
Twenty-year-old Rohith was found hanging at a hostel room in the university on January 17, days after punitive action was taken against him and four other students for allegedly attacking an ABVP functionary.
Students and Rohith’s family have been alleging that Irani and Dattatreya had forced the university to take action against him and others. The duty doctor at the University on Thursday contradicted Irani’s claim that no doctor was allowed near the body to revive him.
Prashant said Irani must be punished for misleading the nation and giving a false statement in Parliament which is “an offence” under the Constitution.
Dontha Prasanth, the friend, questioned Irani as to why, in her speech, she did not mention about Rohith’s December 18 letter to VC Appa Rao where he had sought “a rope or sodium azide” to Dalit students if the university does not want them.
“This stands as a crucial testimony. Why is Irani hiding the letter?” Prashanth asked.
Radhika said that Rao never communicated to her anything about that letter nor did he meet her till date. Responding to a query on the family’s caste, a visibly agitated Radhika lamented that the question of caste is raised time and again to “deviate” from the real issue of delivering justice for Rohith’s death.
“And the ACP is not the competent authority to take a call on matters of caste. The case is with the magistrate to whom Rohith’s mother and foster grandmother, who has recently died, has already deposed,” Prashanth said.
Addressing a packed press conference at the Indian Women’s Press Corps here, Radhika also demanded an explanation from the PM on Rohith being branded “anti-national” and an “extremist”. Prashanth alleged that in response to the communications received from the HRD Ministry, the 11-member Executive Council of the University, “that did not have any Dalit member” acted against the students.
“Irani said the Council members were all appointed by the UPA. But the fact is that the Chairman of the Council VC Appa Rao was appointed by her Ministry.Political involvement of BJP has led to the suicide of Rohith,” he said.
“Why is she not referring to the affidavits submitted in the Hon’ble High court by the Commissioner of Police C. V. Anand and Inspector General of Police Murgesh Kumar Singh that there had been no incidence of physical violence towards Susheel Kumar?
“Why is she not mentioning the two contradictory proctorial committee reports taken out by the chief proctor Alok Pandey, that were the basis of the inquiry by the Executive Council?” he asked.
Prashanth also slammed Irani for reading out certain Facebook posts of Rohith that were critical of CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury over absence of Dalits from its leadership.
“Why did she not read out numerous posts that were critical of BJP and the RSS? Why did she selectively pick only those quotes? Rohith had opinion on many issues and he was constantly questioning the fundamentals of RSS and BJP,” he said.