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Politics and caste: Who said what on Rohith Vemula’s suicide

The words used for Rohith Vemula, a dalit research scholar who killed himself at the University of Hyderabad, indicate how his death has divided politics in the country.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2016 01:27 IST
Rohith Vemula,Dalit scholar suicide,University of Hyderabad
Activists stage a protest in Bangalore following the suicide of Rohit Vemula, a doctorate student at the Hyderabad Central University.(AFP Photo)

The words used for Rohith Vemula, a dalit research scholar who killed himself at the University of Hyderabad, indicate how his death has divided politics in the country. “Caste battle”, “confrontation”, “deep shock”, and “unpleasant treatment”, were among terms used on Wednesday by a range of politicians speaking on the scholar’s death. Here are some quotes:

HRD minister Smriti Irani, who reacted to allegations that her ministry got Vemula expelled, in Delhi:

“There has been a malicious attempt to project the issue as a caste battle. The truth is that, it is not. A malicious attempt is being made to show it as a caste battle which it is not.”

Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who is accused of abetment of Vemula’s suicide, in Hyderabad:

“I have expressed my deep shock on learning about the death of Hyderabad University research scholar Rohit Vemula.” Dattatreya admits he sent the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s complaint against Vemula to the HRD ministry but said that was expected of him. “Taking representations from common people, constituents and forwarding it to concerned ministries is what I consider my earnest responsibility by being an elected people’s representative.”

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh:

“No minister is going to resign as the hue and cry being generated by disappointed opposition politician (Congress leader Rahul Gandhi) was a proof of immense intolerance, and an undesired attempt to divide the society on the basis of casteism and communalism.”

Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu in Mangaluru, Karnataka:

“Congress is engaging in cheap politics. The Opposition is following a 4D policy of disruption, diversion, delay and defamation.”

Deepender Singh Hooda, Congress spokesperson, in Delhi:

“Instead of apologising for the tragic loss of Rohith Vemula, Mrs. Smriti Irani is shamelessly describing it as ‘not dalit vs anti-dalit issue’. The Congress demands that the Prime Minister breaks his silence and takes concrete action.”

Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah, in Bengaluru:

“Central minister Badaru Dattatreya and concerned (HRD) minister Smriti Irani are responsible for the suicide of Dalit scholar Vemula because they were the ones who created such a condition.”

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, in Patna:

“There is an environment of political intolerance in the country that resulted in the suicide by a Dalit student. It is a matter of serious concern that intolerance has increased in the country.”

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, in Patna:

“For the BJP and the RSS, Dalits and the minorities have no place and what happened in Hyderabad is an example of it. Humiliation, mental torture and victimisation of a Dalit student has again exposed the real character of the BJP and the RSS in case of Dalits.”

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, YSR Congress leader, in Hyderabad:

“Action should be taken against all those responsible for the events that led to the death of the dalit student Rohith Vemula -- action should be taken against the vice chancellor (of University of Hyderabad) and all others who were responsible for the discrimination of Dalits”

Mayawati, BSP chief, in UP:

“The attitude of the ministers against Dalit student Rohith Vemula was grossly condemnable and undemocratic. The party demands strict legal action against two central ministers(Irani and Dattatreya) and the VC(Appa Rao), who forced Rohith to commit suicide.”

With inputs from PTI and IANS)

First Published: Jan 21, 2016 00:18 IST