Dalit student suicide: Smriti’s point-by-point defence

| Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 20:14
First Published |
Facts being misrepresented: Smriti Irani
HRD Minister Smriti Irani today addressed the media to clear the air about allegations that have been made against the BJP government in regard to the Dalit research student who committed suicide in the University of Hyderabad.
While speaking at the conference and responding to the reporters present there, the HRD Minister brought out the following facts about the Hyderabad University incident:
As the HRD minister and a mother, I have conveyed my condolences and expressed my grief to Rohith’s family. Because of misrepresentation of facts, I am compelled today to put forth certain observations and facts gained from the ground in the larger public interest.
We have ascertained and expressed today publicly that is not a Dalit vs. Non-Dalit confrontation as has been made by some to ignite the passion. Fact is that the student who was beaten up is also a Dalit and I feel an impartial decision has been taken.
The board of the university enquired into the matter. The University has also informed us that the Executive Council, which is a statutory body under the University of Hyderabad Act 1974, in its meeting upheld the punishment given. 
The HC also ordered that an action report be submitted with regard to the same. The executive council sub-committee headed by a senior professor, a dalit himself, was also constituted. The committee upheld the recommendation of expulsion of the students.
However the executive council in its meeting in November took a lenient view and decided to permit the students access to all departments, library, academic meetings, but not in the hostel, public places and administration.
The Committee’s decision was communicated to the HC as well. The warden, another dalit, communicated this to the students and asked them to vacate the hostel. 
The students challenged the order of suspension from the hostel before the HC. However, The HC didn’t agree to stay the punishment. As a result, the students started protesting. The dean of students’ welfare and VC asked them to have patience and await the court’s decision. 
The University received news about Rohith’s death on 17 January.
What is important to note is that the Executive Council was not constituted by our government. It consists of members nominated by the previous government. The council informed the Dalit faculty members so that no decision is made on the basis of caste as authorised by the university act.
We requested a certified copy of the suicide note from the police so that rumors regarding the content could be laid to rest. The suicide note does not mention any university official, political organisation or MP. 
Again I am compelled to say that it is not a caste battle. I have complete faith in the judiciary and police and  that it will ensure justice for all.
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