Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday welcomed the exit of Smriti Irani from the Human Resource Development Ministry but said this was no “punishment” for the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula.
After Smriti Irani was transferred to the Textiles Ministry, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President said justice had not been served to Vemula, who committed suicide in Hyderabad.
“Justice for Rohith is still awaited. Cabinet reshuffle is not punishment… Bye bye Smriti Irani,” the student leader tweeted.
He demanded the resignation of Irani and another minster Bandaru Dattatreya from ministerial posts and said a case must be lodged against them for the “institutional murder” of Vemula.
“Smritiji has been transferred from one ministry to the other. Our demand was to remove Irani and Dattatreya from the ministerial posts and lodge a case against them for the institutional murder of Vemulla,” Kumar told IANS.
Vemula was a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad who committed suicide on January 17, triggering widespread protests against Smriti Irani and Dattatreya who were blamed for the suicide.
Five Dalit students, including Vemula, were suspended in September, 2015 following a clash with a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Kumar further said that he did not have “much hopes” from the new minister as well.
He said: “The new minister (Prakash Javdekar) made a very sad statement that he will take forward the works of Smriti Irani. Does it mean that more Dalit students will be killed in educational institutions? Does it mean that people who are close to minister would continue to get key posts in the government?”
When asked whether he would seek time from the new Education Minister Prakash Javdekar, Kumar said he would meet him (Javdekar) and put before him various demands of the students’ community.
“Obviously we will meet him. We have our demands for the betterment of the education system. But we are not very hopeful,” he added.