Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday broke his silence on the suicide of a dalit scholar in Hyderabad University and expressed grief saying he felt the pain but faced slogans from a handful of students at a convocation ceremony here.
"...when there is news that a youth of my country, Rohith, was forced to commit suicide, what his family must have gone through. Mother India has lost a son. There will be reasons, there will be politics (surrounding it) but the fact remains that a mother has lost her son. I feel the pain very well," a visibly emotional Modi said.
He was speaking as the Chief Guest at the convocation ceremony of the BR Ambedkar University here, where a couple of students shouted slogans like "Modi murdabad" and "Modi go back, Modi go back" and "inquilab zindabad" as he began his speech.
The two students, who were donning blue stole, meant for Masters degree scholars,were evicted by police and detained.
They have been identified as Ram Karan and Bhuvnesh Arya. The suicide by Rohith Vemula, a dalit scholar of the Hyderabad Central University, has kicked up a major row with Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya coming under intense attack from political rivals, who have blamed them for the incident and demanded their removal.
University Proctor Kamal Jaiswal said, "we were taken aback. We had taken all precautions. Action will be taken as per rules."
However, Modi did not go into the politics behind Rohith's suicide.
Modi made the reference to Rohit's suicide while noting that there was happiness about 21st century being projected as India's as it was the "youngest nation" in the world but such a development pained him.
"But we want to take this country in a direction where there is new enthusiasm and self confidence. We are making relentless effort to take the country in the direction of Ambedkar's dream," the Prime Minister said, adding that the nation cannot progress without following his vision.
In his about 35-minute speech, Modi repeatedly invoked the name and legacy of Ambedkar and asked students to show strong will and courage in the face of difficulties as the dalit icon did without wasting his time on making any complaint despite facing humiliation and difficulties.
"He did not waste time in complaining and lamenting. He did not seek anything from others. He instead took on the adversities and overcame all obstacles," Modi said, noting that the maker of Constitution always stressed on the need of education.
Earlier in the day in Varanasi, Modi said his government was committed to the welfare of dalits, poor and oppressed.
"This government is dedicated to the poor – dalits, oppressed and deprived and will attempt to do something for those who have to suffer in life. This government is committed to the welfare of the poor and how their lives can be changed and this government has been making constant efforts in this regard," he said at a function to distribute aides to differently-able people in his constituency.
Modi said he is under tremendous attack all the time and attempts are made to pitchfork him in into controversies but he would not digress from his path of working for the poor.
"Sometimes it seems the entire world is after me. Since morning I am under attack from all corners. Their attempt is to make Modi digress from his path and make him embroil in controversies.
"But my mantra is to help poor and downtrodden and that is why I remain unfazed. All this is happening as the system is changing and middlemen are being eradicated," he said.
At function to distribute e-rickshaws here, the Prime Minister said he does not want India to just become the fastest-growing economy but also to transform the lives of the poor.