War Over Student Protests As Parliament Begins Budget Session
New Delhi: Rajya Sabha was repeatedly adjourned today as opposition lawmakers shouted slogans against the government over the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula at a Hyderabad university last month.
Here are the latest developments:
- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati raised the Rohith Vemula suicide in the upper house, demanding the government’s response to allegations that the research scholar, a Dalit, was persecuted and two union ministers had a role in it.
- Shouting slogans, her party members trooped into the well of the House, forcing repeated adjournments. They demanded the resignation of the two ministers – labour minister Bandaru Datatreya and education minister Smriti Irani.
- “Have a discussion right away sir. Who uses a child as a political tool?” said Smriti Irani, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha. The government has said that it is willing to suspend all business and take up the discussion immediately.
- Rohit Vemula’s suicide is part of a debate scheduled for this afternoon in the Rajya Sabha. The upper house will discuss “the situation arising in central institutions of higher education with specific reference to Jawaharlal Nehru University and University of Hyderabad.”
- “The government is working fine and has a lot to show. The opposition is raking up non-issues like JNU and the party needs to debate and contest aggressively,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to have told the BJP’s top leaders at a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday evening.
- The Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad will begin the Rajya Sabha debate, leading a united opposition in an attack on the government over students being charged with sedition for an event at JNU earlier this month where anti-India slogans were raised. “They misused the sedition clause,” alleged Left leader Sitaram Yechury yesterday.
- The government will defend the sedition charge against the students and its speakers are expected to quote a Supreme Court order on anti-India slogans amounting to sedition.
- BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, too, briefed party lawmakers on the JNU controversy on Tuesday. Mr Jaitley, a well-known lawyer, covered the sedition law and other legal aspects of the case, sources said.
- The party’s lawmakers were told to counter the opposition by citing the arrest of Kashmiri terrorist Muhammad Ghauri from JNU during the Congress-led UPA’s rule. They have also been told to bring up how two Army officers were beaten up badly on the university campus.
- At a separate meeting on Tuesday of allies, the Shiv Sena backed the BJP’s plan to go aggressive on the JNU issue but advised caution on the student’s suicide. “The case involves a Dalit student and an aggressive stance will hurt the government and all parties in the alliance,” a senior leader told.