By: Satyam Vashishtha
Police charged Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya with abetting the suicide of a Dalit scholar at the University of Hyderabad.
Officials at Gachibowli police station said the labour minister was also booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act for allegedly orchestrating the suspension of Rohith Vemula and four other Dalit students from the university hostel.
The 25-year-old, a resident of Guntur, was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies. He had completed two years at the university when he allegedly got involved in a tiff with the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, in August last year.
Earlier this month, the five students – all members of the Ambedkar Students Union were thrown out of the hostel amid allegations that they were denied access to campus facilities, except their classrooms and respective workshops, on recommendation by an executive committee of the university.
Since then, they were protesting against the “undemocratic” “social boycott”, sleeping in a makeshift tent on the campus. They also laid siege to the administrative building in protest.
Student groups at the university have demanded action against Appa Rao and ABVP leader Susheel Kumar – who had lodged the original complaint against the five students.
The 28-year-old hailing from Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh was found hanging at a friend’s hostel room around 7.30 pm on Sunday. The 28-year-old came from a poor background and held a scholarship under the University Grants Commission’s Junior Research Fellowship programme.
“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living,” he wrote in the note.
Dattatreya, Union minister of state for labor (independent charge) in the central government, had written a letter to human resource development minister late last year, complaining about caste politics playing out on the varsity campus.
Speaking to media, Vemula’s mother, while distancing herself from the politics around her son’s death, maintained that she wanted a detailed explanation from the university management about why her son was sleeping in the open for two weeks now. She also complained about the family not being informed about his expulsion.