Under intense attack, HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday made a forceful statement in Lok Sabha, saying Kanhaiya Kumar and some other students had been found indulging in anti-national activities by the JNU authorities themselves.
She also made an emotional pitch with regard to the suicide by Dalit student Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University, insisting that her ministry had no role in his death and the deceased himself had said in his suicide note that nobody should be held responsible for his action.
Replying to the charged day-long debate on recent incidents in JNU and Hyderabad University during which the government faced opposition onslaught, a combative Irani said she was being targeted by Congress for contesting against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi Parliamentary constituency.
“I will not seek forgiveness for doing my duty...you (Congress members) never wanted to listen to my reply,” she said aloud, as the Congress members, Left parties and Trinamool Congress staged a walkout as she was speaking.
During last 20 months as Minister, Irani said she tried to do justice to students by trying to address their complaints without asking for their “caste or religion”.
Rejecting the charge of saffronising education, she said, she would quit politics if it was established she made any attempt to do so.
Most of the vice chancellors are Congress appointees, Irani said, adding she had asked them to listen to the students who come from different backgrounds and address their issues.
“Help me build the nation, not destroy it from within,” she said stressing, “I respect your patriotism, don’t demean mine... I have my idea of India...don’t demean it.”
Citing documents, she said, report by JNU’s security people observed that some students were indulging in anti-national sloganeering even though the students had sought permission to hold a “poetry” event.
Those involved in the programme which include Umar Khalid, Kanhayia Kumar and others, she said, were suspended by the JNU authorities though they were allowed to stay on the campus till completion of the inquiry.
Earlier too, Irani said some students and professors had taken out rallies in support of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his role in attack on Parliament, and burnt the effigy of Home Ministry.
Hanging of Afzal Guru was described by the activists as “judicial murder”, she said, adding it amounted to rising against Supreme Court and the Indian state.