While Smriti Irani’s much talked about speech in the parliament the other day left almost the entire country in a state of collective awe, a few of us were left scratching our heads.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would be aware of the implications in the Rohith Vemula case. In what became the nation’s dining table debate; a student of the Hyderabad Central University committed suicide on the eve of January 17 by hanging himself in his hostel room, after he was banned from the university’s common areas for allegedly attacking an activist of the BJP-linked ABVP.
Rohith, a Dalit student, succumbed to his anxieties and fears after he felt that he was reduced to his immediate identity and felt threatened by the consequences that he had imagined for himself.
You see, her speech had the passion of an angry politician, however, it lacked the precision of an intelligent parliamentarian.
The impiety with which she stood before the nation and declared, that no one was allowed to go near Rohith Vemula’s body after he committed suicide on the eve of January 17, and that no one tried to help the student or call for medical attention, was not only factually incorrect but also a blatant act ingenuity towards the country.
She also alleged that the police were not allowed near the body and she claimed that it wasn’t her who was saying this, but the report by the Telangana Police which contained these facts.
However, her claims were thwarted by Dr Rajasree Malpath, Chief Medical Officer at the Hyderabad Central University, as she says that she was called in moments after Rohith was found hanging from a fan. When she came to examine Rohith, he had been dead for at least two hours, she says.
“Around 7.30 pm I got a call from the hostel. I reached within 4 minutes. I examined for pulse and BP, despite knowing he is probably dead. There was no pulse or blood pressure. His body was cold, stiff and rigid. His tongue was protruding and rigor mortis had set in,” said Dr Malpath.
Zikrullah Nisha, the Hyderabad varsity student, was apparently the first person who called the campus health centre after Rohith was found hanging in a hostel room.
A video of the room where Rohith’s body was kept that day, shared by his friends, shows policemen next to the body, which contradicts the minister’s claim that the police were not allowed near the body till the next morning.
Rohith Vemula’s suicide has triggered an acrimonious political debate around alleged caste discrimination in universities.
In light of all the furore around the JNU fiasco, Rohith Vemula’s death plays an important role in the whole nationalism debate. It is believed that Rohith had questions regarding the hanging of Yakub Memon; which ultimately led to a war of words between him and ABVP activists. Crumbling under the growing pressure that he faced and after being ostracized for what he had done, he chose to end his life.
It is rather unsettling that minister holding an office as important as her, would resort to distorting and camouflaging facts just to suit her political agenda.
We are talking about a student who took the extreme step of ending his life and here we have ministers using that to gain political mileage and drama.
We wish she had shown this level of enthusiasm and passion in verifying facts of her argument instead of just increasing the pitch of her voice.
Reducing the death of a student to a political tool is a complete mockery of one’s personhood and an outright demolition of this country’s already diminishing democracy.
Watch the video that refutes Irani’s claims and has been shared over and over again –