New Delhi: Voicing concern over the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar in Hyderabad University, a Parliamentary panel has favoured sending a delegation to the institution and also IIT-Chennai, to look into complaints of injustice and discrimination against Dalit students.
At a meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes chaired by BJP member Faggan Singh on Wednesday, members also raised strong objections over the absence of Secretaries of Petroleum department and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
The Committee decided to approach Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to complain about Secretaries allegedly "undermining" Parliamentary panels, besides seeking her nod for undertaking the tour to Hyderabad university and IIT-Chennai, which have been in news on the issue of alleged atrocities against Dalits.
The agenda of the meeting was to discuss issues related to implementation of the reservation policy in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and organizations under the Petroleum Ministry.
However, since Secretaries of both departments could not make it citing some engagements with Government, the panel could not take up the listed agenda.
Resenting it, the members asked why did the Secretaries not attend the meeting even as the agenda was circulated in advance and there was an important issue to be discussed.
This happened days after strong objections were raised in a meeting of another panel to the absence of Home Secretary, who was called by the Committee to give presentation on Chennai flash floods. Two Trinamool Congress members had even walked out from the panel meeting then.
"It is being noticed that Secretaries skip panel meetings on crucial occasions on one or the other pretext. This cannot be taken lightly. After all, a Parliametary panel is considered mini Parliament.
"Members raised strong objections to the absence of Petroleum and Telecom Secretaries from the meeting yesterday after which the Chair gave the assurance the issue with the Speaker and apprise her how the position of Parliamentary panels is being being undermined by them," said a member of the Comittee on the condition of anonymity.
While the main agenda could not be taken up, members including D Raja from CPI, Jesudasu Seelam from Congress and Ravindra Babu Pandula of NDA ally TDP raised the issue of Vemula's suicide.
They are understood to have said that a delegation of the committee should visit the Hyderabad University and IIT Chennai so that the message goes to the nation that the Parliamentary panel is sensitive towards dalits.
Referring to a ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Chennai last year on the basis of an anonymous complaint, a member said that the issues of discrimination against dalits need attention there as well, the sources said.
The delegation will interact with dalit students and members of the faculty on various facets of caste-based discrimination.
The panel will then submit a report to both Houses of Parliament.
The Committee might visit some other educational institutions where issues of caste-discrimination had been raised.