Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally broke his silence on the death of 26-year-old Rohith Vemula, who was a scholar at Univeristy of Hyderabad.
During a speech at the convocation ceremony of the Dr Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, PM Modi said:
“It was saddening to see that a youth of my country, Rohith, was driven to commit suicide. Reason and politics aside, what must the mother of the student have gone through.”
Students protesting to demand justice for Rohit Vemmula
The death of Vemula
had led to nationwide protests with the issue spiraling into a political controversy. He was one among the five research scholars who was suspended by the university administration last year. Few days before his death, he was expelled from his hostel which left him depressed. Protestors alleged that Vemula’s death was due to extreme discrimination at the behest of Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Expressing his condolences, PM Modi said:
“Mother India has lost one of her sons, can feel his family’s pain.”
Earlier, as Prime Minister began his speech, many students protested and tried to disrupt it. They shouted, ‘Narendra Modi murdabaad’.
There was a scuffle amongst students but they were whisked away by by security personnel. However, Modi continued his speech and said, “BR Ambedkar did not live for himself; he dedicated his life to the nation for the welfare of the marginalised communities. He proved himself amidst criticism and insults. He didn’t let his commitment go down.” This was Modi’s first visit to the state as prime minister. It was also for the first time that a prime minister drove through the busy and famous thoroughfare, after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous 2004 drive through Hazratganj for his nomination.
PM Modi visited the town for an election rally on March 2, 2014.
Modi’s visit was also significant given that Uttar Pradesh is going for polls next year.
Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, Mayawati had said
: “If the PM and the NDA are serious about Dalit votes then the centre should take more realistic steps to help Dalits in the country. And reservation for Dalits in the private sector can be one such step.”