A teachers’ forum of University of Hyderabad (UoH) today termed as “factually incorrect” the claims made by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha with regards to suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula.
The SC/ST Teachers’ Forum & Concerned Faculty, in an open letter to Irani, termed the minister calling Rohith as ‘child’ nothing but “a patronising attempt to dehumanise Rohith’s reality”.
Rohith was found hanging in a hostel room on January 17 and a suicide note was recovered from the site.
“Ms Irani, your constant reference to him (Rohith) as a ‘child’ is nothing but a patronising attempt to dehumanise his reality. It is also deeply disrespectful to Rohith’s mother, whose child he actually is - because she knows how ironic your appropriation of him is, considering your culpability in his death,” they alleged.
“Not only are your claims factually incorrect but they point to an utter lack of respect and sensitivity for the grieving family, friends, and students,” the letter read.
During a debate in the Lok Sabha on the controversies surrounding the Hyderabad University and the JNU, Irani had said nobody allowed a doctor near Rohith either to revive him or take him to the hospital.
On Irani’s claim, the letter said, “You were not there that night, respected Minister. You did not see the grief or the shock, nor were you there to feel the despair. How could you even begin to fathom how desperate students were when they called faculty members and medical doctor of the University’s Health Centre as soon as Rohith’s body was found hanging by students and security officials?”
The letter clarified that as Dr Rajshree, (Duty Doctor, who examined Rohith) has stated, she rushed to the hostel at 7.30 PM and declared Rohit dead at 7.40 PM, and this is all recorded in the case sheet on January 17.
“Being at the helm of MHRD, we are sure you must know that the Executive Council’s Sub-Committee that took the fatal decision to suspend the (five) Dalit students from hostels and other common spaces, was expressly constituted by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Appa Rao, following five rejoinders from your ministry goading the University to take action against the dalit students,” it said.
In the letter, the faculty members stated that the entire matter should not be turned into “a fight against students”.