Noted writer Ashok Vajpeyi today decided to return D.Litt given to him by Hyderabad University in protest against the “anti-dalit” attitude of authorities which has allegedly driven a dalit student to commit suicide.
“A dalit student, Rohith Vemula, who wanted to be a writer was driven to commit suicide due to anti-dalit and intolerance of dissent shown. I have decided to return the award in protest against university authorities, (who were) presumably acting under political pressure,” Vajpeyi told PTI.
The former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman, who was awarded D.Litt (Doctor of Letters, honoris causa) by the Central University of Hyderabad few years ago, said the institution has “acted against human dignity and knowledge.”
Vemula, who committed suicide on Sunday night, was among the five research scholars who were suspended by the University in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on a student leader. They were also kept out of the hostel.
Union Labour Minister Dattatreya, Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others were yesterday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the dalit student.
Vajpeyi was among the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award to the government criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking up against various incidents of violence against writers and activists.
A total of 39 writers had returned their awards protesting against the Akademi’s alleged silence on the murder of fellow writer and Sahitya Akademi board member M M Kalburgi as well as against the growing “communal atmosphere” following the Dadri lynching incident.
Vajpeyi had received the Sahitya award in 1994 for his poetry collection, Kahin Nahin Wahin.
Terming the suicide by a dalit student of Hyderabad University as “unfortunate”, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today came to the defence of his ministerial colleague Bandaru Dattatreya saying he was “innocent” and that the central government “is with him”.
“The Union Minister is innocent... The central government is with him,” Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Naqvi told reporters here.
Naqvi said efforts should be made to offer help to the family of the student but what was being done by the opposition parties was completely the opposite.
“Congress yuvraj Rahul Gandhi rushes there as soon as the incident takes place to rub salt and this is not right,” he said, adding all these were guided by “political ill will”.
The HRD Ministry has ordered an inquiry and an FIR has been lodged, Naqvi added.
Union Labour Minister Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor Appa Rao and three others were yesterday named in an FIR lodged with the Cyberabad police over the alleged suicide of the dalit student.
Twenty-six-year-old Vemula Rohit, a PhD scholar, was found hanging at the Central University’s hostel room on the campus on Sunday.
To a question on Subramanian Swamy and other BJP leaders’ statements on the Ram temple issue, Naqvi said that in a democracy, everyone has the right to speak. “But the country is run as per the Constitution and law, and people will accept whatever the court decides... As far as the government is concerned, it is moving ahead in the direction of building the temple of nation,” Naqvi said.
To a question on sugarcane prices, he said that the state government was working irresponsibly while the Centre was extending all help to farmers.
In the wake of the terror attack on the Air Force base in Pathankot, he said, all those posing a threat to the national security will not be spared.
The HRD Ministry should not be blamed for the suicide by a dalit scholar of Hyderabad Central University as it concerns the institution, Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha today said while assuring that action will be taken on basis of the report of a fact-finding committee.
Commenting on the massive row over the death of the student, the Minister of State for HRD said the ministry has already set up the fact-finding committee.
“That committee will tell what is the issue all about... whatever action the ministry has to take as per the facts that come out after the committee examines the issue. The issue seems to be of administrative nature and one that concerns the institution. Why should HRD ministry be targeted for this?” Kushwaha said.
The suicide by Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University today snowballed into a major issue with BJP’s rivals wading into it and demanding the removal of Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya.
Hyderabad Central University(HCU)
Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, who is at the centre of a raging controversy over the suicide of a dalit student, today ruled out his resignation on the demand made by “aggrieved” students.
Rao also sought to distance the HRD Ministry and the two ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya from the decisions taken by the University which allegedly forced the student Rohit Vemula to take the extreme step.
“I am not going to consider such kind of demand,” he said when asked whether he would consider quitting the post as demanded by students who are now being backed by several political parties.
The students, Rao said, have made the demand in a situation in which they feel they are aggrieved and have asked for his resignation.
“Anything has to come through a proper method and has to go through an established process. Decisions are taken in a cool atmosphere. If an appropriate committee considers the whole issue and finds if I have done anything wrong then I can consider,” he said.
Asked about the alleged intervention by the HRD ministry on the basis of a letter written by Dattatreya, Rao said it is a common practice for people’s representatives to write routinely on common man’s grievances.
“It is entirely university’s decisions (relating to Rohit) and it has nothing to do with the HRD ministry,” he said.
HCU Chancellor C Rangarajan said the incident was “very regrettable” and that it should not have happened. He, however, pleaded ignorance about the details.
“As a Chancellor, I am not apprised of all these details...I do not know the sequence of events like that because that is not the role of the Chancellor. All that I can say is that it is a very regrettable event. It should not have happened. It’s an extremely sad event,” he said.