Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have finally broken his silence on the suicide of Hyderabad-based research scholar Rohith Vemula on Friday afternoon by saying “Mother India has lost a son”, but the Congress is not ready to relent yet.
The Congress party has demanded nothing less than sacking of the HRD minister Smriti Irani, the Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya and HCU vice chancellor Appa Rao, and stringent action against the said ABVP leaders.
“We all respect PM Narendra Modi ji. We want to humbly tell him that by mere shedding of crocodile tears will neither bring back Rohith Vemula nor justice be meted to him. As he didn’t spell out about anything on any action, it has eroded the confidence of the youth and Dalits of this country. It’s disappointing. Will Mr Modi remove Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya and Appa Rao? Will any action be taken against the university VC and the ABVP activists, who first orchestrated circumstances perpetuating anti-Dalit mindset that led to suicide of Rohith on 17 January? What about the compensation to the family of the Vemula? The country wants to know,” said Congress leader and in-charge AICC communications, Randeep Surjewala.
“First pre-condition for a fair, independent and impartial probe by a sitting High Court judge is sacking of the two Union Ministers and Apparao, and action against BJP MLC Ramchandra Rao and ABVP activists. Arrests should be made of all accused named in the FIR. It is only thereafter, that an equitable and trustworthy probe can be held that will inspire confidence of the entire student community including the Dalit and underprivileged sections,” he added.
Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik added, “PM Modi speaks about the Dalits and their welfare, but in true sense, he’s silent over any action against those who were instrumental in the abetment of Rohith Vemula's suicide. We’ve come to know that the ABVP has given a list of 40 professors, officials and students of Hyderabad Central University to the HRD ministry dubbing them as anti-nationals and has demanded a CBI probe against them. It’s nothing sort of persecution of Dalits.”
In response to the suicide of Vemula and the suspension of five Dalit students at Hyderabad Central University (HCU), the Congress party has decided to mobilise the teachers, academicians, intellectuals and lawyers across the country against NDA-government’s “promoting RSS ideology” in universities and educational institutions.
“Indian universities and academic institutions are under serious attack, as they (BJP) want to take control over what to be taught. The BJP government and the RSS are trying to shape India as a Hindu Rastra through centralised control of the education system. The present government has snatched away the right of the universities to frame the syllabus and imposed common syllabus across the country. With growing centralisation in the higher education through HRD ministry’s diktats, the agenda of egalitarian higher education is in jeopardy. Dalits and Minorities are gradually feeling more and more isolated in the system of higher learning. In last 18 months the atrocities against the Dalits have increased manifold,” said K Raju, chairman, SC department of AICC.
Debating on ‘Era of intolerance & Atrocities on Dalits’ in New Delhi on Friday, Raju said there has been a kind of “Clash of two ideologies”, as the vision of Congress was at loggerhead with divisive and sectarian ideas of BJP-RSS.
“The government has been trying to implement the Golwalkar’s idea of India, where there is no equal rights and liberty of thoughts. Furthermore, BJP talked of Çongress-Mukta Bharat during the elections, but what they are trying now is to make Constitution-Mukta Bharat. The suicide of Rohith Vemula has only brought out fatal consequences of such a policy of the BJP government,” he remarked.
The Congress party as a part of its strategy has decided to identify Congress-minded people in various academic institutions and universities and “take care of them”, to safeguard them from the onslaught of right-wing activists and the HRD ministry.
“There’s a need to identify Congress minded people in educational institutions and take care of them as they are being targetted and attacked. We oppose the government’s approach of taking away the autonomy of the universities and educational institutions. The Rights-based legislations like MNREGA and others brought out by the UPA government are under threat, as the present NDA wants to curtail those schemes,” added Raju.
Stating the present NDA regime as an “era of intolerance and hostilities to freedom of expression and right to equality”, Girija Vyas, chairperson, Vichar Vibhag (Intellectual Cell) of the AICC, said, “Dalits and marginalised sections of the society are being persecuted. In the contemporary scenario the government is trying to promote inequality and caste-based society. The idea of democracy is losing out.”
“Indian universities and academic institutions are under serious attack, as they (BJP) wants to take control over what to be taught. It’s not the majoritarian ideology, but that of the RSS. The academic and executive committees have no space as the HRD ministry wants to gag speech. The scientists with true scientific temper have no space in universities and research institutions, like in a fascist state,” said Prof Aditya Narayan Misra, vice chairman of the Intellectual Cell.
Prof Ajay Upadhyay, general secretary, Intellectual Cell, added “There’s an environment of anarchy in universities. Present government’s policy of intolerance has raised question among all religions, sects and castes in India. Both Dalits and minorities are in fear. Congress will mobilise academicians and intellectuals in every state against the RSS agenda to control the academic space.”