BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya sparked a row on Sunday by casting doubts over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, while he claimed the Hyderabad Central University student used to offer prayers for terrorist Yakub Memon and organised beef parties.
His contentious remarks came a day after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said Vemula, who authorities believe took his own life on January 17, was not a Dalit, adding to a swirling controversy over the issue that has triggered nationwide outrage.
“One who protested against the execution of terrorists, one who said he feels like sin whenever he sees saffron colour, one who publicly announced to organise a beef party, one who offered namaz for terrorists like Yakub Memon (who was executed last year for his role in the 1993 blasts in Mumbai) cannot be a weak youth, who would have committed suicide,” Vijayvargiya told the media in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur city.
Vemula, 26, was found hanging a fortnight after he and four other researchers were expelled from the university hostel in connection with an alleged case of assault on an ABVP activist.
Critics have alleged that the union HRD ministry pushed for the Dalit students to be punished by sending five reminders to the university’s vice-chancellor after labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya complained to Smriti Irani’s department.
Vijayvargiya also hailed the Centre’s move of appointing a retired high court judge to inquire into the death.
The development came on a day the university’s acting vice chancellor said students who were protesting in the wake of the suicide had agreed to allow classes and administrative activities to resume normally from Monday.
The students, however, said final decision would be taken at a meeting of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, which is heading the agitation.
“We had a meeting with student (JAC) representatives. They agreed to allow regular functioning from tomorrow. This is a conditional agreement,” acting V-C M Periasamy told PTI.
(With inputs from agencies)