Rahul invokes Vemula, says govt killed him

Rahul invokes Vemula, says govt killed him

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday once again invoked the name of Hyderabad University Dalit student Rohith Vemula in his speech at a poll campaign rally, saying that he was "murdered by the Government of India".

"How dare did Rohith Vemula join the university? A letter comes from the minister and his career is crushed. I have said it in Hyderabad earlier and am saying it again. He did not commit suicide. He was murdered by the Government of India," Rahul said.

The young second-year research scholar was found hanging in his friend's hostel room last year and his suicide had triggered a huge political furore, with the then Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya coming under fire for having written a letter related to the matter.

Rahul's statement came while addressing a rally at Sanand's Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), a vocational training institute run for Dalits.

He also received a giant national flag. Interestingly, this flag woven by Dalit artists was to be handed over to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, whose government turned down the request citing "lack of proper space".

The flag was symbolic of the movement to end untouchability.

"The national flag has a special place in my heart but there is no space for it in the BJP…You talked of removing untouchability. Not just from society, it needs to be removed from hearts and minds of Indians and that was the aim of Dr Ambedkar," Rahul said.

The Congress vice-president hit out at the BJP, saying that they had done not one thing for the Dalit community in the last 22 years.

"You asked where was the Congress. I was in Hyderabad (when Vemula incident took place) and I was here when Una incident (public flogging of Dalits by self-styled cow protectors) happened. I was standing with you," Rahul told the audience.

"I have great respect for the Dalit community and I don't need to tell you about it. You all know it," he added.

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