Hyderabad: Hitting out at Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani for dragging his name into the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, Congress MP Hanumantha Rao on Wednesday dismissed her charge that he had written a letter demanding a 'probe' to be ordered into the rampant suicides by Dalit students in the University of Hyderabad.
"On 17th November, I wrote a letter to Smriti Irani regarding the issues being faced by the students and employees at the university. I said that there was misappropriation going on and that seven students had committed suicide in three semesters. I also wrote that there were cases of rape and kidnapping occurring regularly besides allegations of illegal transfer of university land," Rao told ANI.
He added that he should have got the reply in 15 days as per the law but now Irani was bringing up his letter from 2014 for her own convenience.
"I never said that there were any anti-social elements in the university. All I did was explain the irregularities at the university. Why did they not answer my letter? Rohit would have been alive if they had paid any heed to my queries," Rao added.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also hit out at Irani's defence and said that it was an attempt to shift the blame and confuse people.
"She should tell how many times she pressurized Vice-Chancellor to change the decision. This is simply an attempt to further disturb and confuse people," Congress leader Singh told ANI.
Earlier, Irani attempted to shift the blame on the previous UPA regime and said that things would have been in place at the moment had the Congress taken action then.
The HRD Minister drew the attention of the media to the letter written by Rao and said that he wanted a probe to be ordered on the death of students from the Telangana region.
"I am in possession of a letter written by Shri Hanumantha Rao ji, Congress MP, on November 17, 2014. In this letter, he had claimed that in the past four years, not the present VC but the earlier VC appointed by the Congress Government, there have been suicides by the students from the Telangana region who were from marginalized communities. He has in his letter to the ministry written that he wants a probe to be ordered," she added, while asserting that the University had been asked to give a clarification in this regard," Irani said.
Meanwhile, fierce protests continued at the Hyderabad University over the suicide of Rohith, as students expressed their dissatisfaction with Irani's defence by burning an effigy of the HRD Minister.