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Kejriwal meets agitating students, attacks Irani

Kejriwal at HCU

Hyderabad : Backing the students’ stir at Hyderabad University, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today mounted pressure on the Centre as he demanded sacking of Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide by a dalit scholar which he called a “national shame”.

Coming out all guns blazing against HRD Minister Smriti Irani, the AAP leader while addressing the agitating students here said her statement yesterday about Rohith Vemula’s death as well as subsequent agitation by the university’s students was a clear attempt to make it a caste issue for which she must apologise.

He also demanded inclusion of Irani’s name in the FIR in connection with the death. “It is shameful that a responsible minister without inquiring into the facts has already concluded that Ambedkar Students Association is casteist. He mentioned three words about the students — anti-national, casteist and extremist,” said Kejriwal.

The AAP leader, who met the group of students sitting on an indefinite fast, charged Irani with playing “dirty politics” on the issue of the student’s suicide.

“Smriti Irani lied yesterday and tried to play dirty caste politics and tried to play with the emotions of the students. We demand she seek an apology from the entire country for that. We appeal to the Prime Minister to remove Smriti Irani and Dattatreya from his Cabinet,” he said.

“An FIR is registered. Dattatreya’s name is there; let there be action against Smriti Irani also. Her name should also be there in that FIR,” Kejriwal said.

Irani had yesterday alleged that a malicious attempt was being made to project it as a “dalit versus non-dalit issue to ignite passions” for political gains and strongly refuted allegations of interference or putting pressure on university authority to take action against the dalit students.

Observing that the government work is not done only through letters, Kejriwal said the role of all would be known after a probe into call records of all concerned.

He claimed that the HRD Minister must have called Vice-Chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile many times in connection with the issue. Kejriwal also sought removal of the Vice-Chancellor.

Vemula’s alleged suicide following his suspension has snowballed into a major row with BJP’s rivals wading into it and demanding the removal of Irani and Dattatreya, accusing them of being responsible for the death.

The agitating students are demanding resignation of Dattatreya, removal of the Vice Chancellor, Rs 5 crore compensation to Rohith’s family and employment to a member of his family, besides revocation of suspension of four students.

Kejriwal said the FIR in the case contained non-bailable sections and demanded that all those whose names figured in it be arrested.

The AAP leader demanded removal of the Vice-Chancellor, saying the students have told him that he faced allegations even when he was chief warden earlier.

The Delhi Chief Minister said he had offered to sit on a dharna outside the VC’s office demanding revocation of suspension of the four students but the agitators asked him not to do so as the main fight now was to ensure justice to Vemula.

“The statement of Irani yesterday was a shameful statement. She tried to make this a dalit verses non-dalit issue,” he said, adding that it is the responsibility of the HRD Minister to ensure justice for any student whether he is dalit or non-dalit.

The NDA government at the Centre has been trying to impose its ideology since it resumed office one-and-a-half- years ago, Kejriwal alleged.

The BJP does not have any ideology, including even in favour of Hindus, and the party is only power-hungry, he charged.

Citing the example of students’ protests at FTII in Pune, Kejriwal claimed that the NDA government’s alleged attempt to appoint persons with RSS and ABVP backgrounds to positions of VCs and Directors in the country is unacceptable.

On the allegation against Ambedkar Student Association (ASA) in Hyderabad University as being “anti-national”, he said, “There cannot be a more national activity than discussing about the thoughts of Ambedkar.”

Maintaining that the whole country is with the students in their fight, he offered a “small advise” to the Prime Minister not to get into an issue with the students.

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