Hyderabad: The alleged suicide by expelled Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has taken a political turn with the Gachibowli police registering cases against Union minister of state for labour Bandaru Dattatreya, UoH vice chancellor P Appa Rao and two others under the stringent SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and abetting the student’s suicide even as the TRS was quick to point fingers at Dattatreya, saying there was no need for a Union minister to interfere with students issues.
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In a related development, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry sent a team to Hyderabad to collate information pertaining to the circumstances that led Rohith to end his life even as UoH campus remained tense throughout the day as huge posse of policemen were deployed who kept a watch on emotionally charged up students.
On Monday morning, a group of students approached the Gachibowli police station and lodged a complaint against Dattatreya, Appa Rao, ABVP president Susheel and his brother Vishnu and held them responsible for Rohith’s death and instigating the suspension of five students. ‘’They targeted Dalit scholars representing the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), which led to his death,’’ they alleged in the complaint.
While UoH vice-chancellor has been named as A-1, Dattatreya is named as A2, ABVP president as A3 and his brother as A4.
Asked what would be the next course of action and whether arrests would follow, Director General of Police Anurag Sharma told Express that the investigation is going on. ‘’We will investigate the matter thoroughly,’’ the state police chief said.
Criminal cases against Dattatreya came at a time when all political parties including the TDP-BJP combine are busy campaigning in the GHMC polls and with cases against him, TRS is likely to exploit the issue to the hilt. TRS MP from Nizamabad K Kavitha already gave enough indication when she said that the Union minister should not have intervened in the matter.
‘’We (TRS) were aware of the goings-on on the campus but since we did not want to politicise it, we stayed away as it was a matter between students and the administration and we did not want to politicise it. But unfortunately, we have a Union minister intervening in the matter, writing to the HRD minister that resulted in the suspension of the five students. I now request Dattatreya to take back his letter and HRD minister Smriti Irani should intervene and ensure that no injustice is done to the remaining four expelled students,’’ Kavitha said. She also demanded that Dattatreya resign from his post.
On his part, Dattatreya said that his letter to the HRD minister had no link, whatsoever, with Rohith’s suicide. ‘’ABVP leaders were being beaten up on the campus and when they represented the matter to me, I forwarded the same to the HRD ministry as anti-social activities were going on on the campus. We have nothing to do with the suicide,’’ Dattatreya said.
Susheel, a member of ABVP at UoH, was involved in a fight with ASA members over protest against hanging of Yakub Memon. In August last, he alleged that several ASA members, including the expelled scholars, had assaulted him after which he lodged a complaint with the university.
Though the initial enquiry committee constituted by the university to probe the issue held none of the ASA members guilty, it is only after Dattatreya wrote to the Union HRD minister that the varsity expelled them in December. Dattatreya, in a letter to Union minister Smriti Irani, requested her to take action against ASA.
This was followed by a series of letters from the HRD ministry to the university seeking action. In December, the UoH Proctorial Board reopened the enquiry and held five scholars, including Rohith, guilty of attacking Susheel and expelled them.
However, the student organisations of the university alleged that Dattatreya had pressurised the university administration to target the ASA members in order to protect Susheel. After Rohith committed suicide, students held protests demanding resignation of VC and action against those responsible for his death. The university campus remained tense with protests and deployment of a large number of police.