Radhika, 45, was at a candlelight vigil at India Gate in Delhi. She was demanding justice for her 26-year-old son Rohith Vemula who had committed suicide last month to escape Indian government-sponsored persecution.
Radhika was obviously perturbed Wednesday when India’s HRD / education minister Smriti Irani was giving her response to the Lok Sabha debate on Rohith’s death.
“Radhika Vemula was picked up and taken to a police station in the heart of the capital when Smriti Irani was telling parliament how condemnable it was that a “child was being used as a political tool,” writes Brinda Karat, a former Member of the Rajya Sabha in India.
It is alleged that Smriti Irani had colluded with ABVP, the student wing of her party BJP, and other BJP politicians to harass Rohith that forced him to commit suicide, although Irani defended her actions in her speech on Wednesday.
Brinda Karat, who has become a torch-bearer in the ongoing struggle of students in India’s top educational institutions, raised some questions in her article published today on a TV news site.
Watching Smriti Irani’s performance, Karat said, I recalled a grieving mother’s words, the words of Radhika: “I want to meet Smriti Irani and ask her ‘On what basis did you declare my son to be anti-national? Your Ministry had written that my Rohith and other Dalit students were anti-national extremists.You said that he is not a Dalit. You accused him of getting a false certificate.”
“Should I say it is because you got false certificates for your educational qualifications that you think others do so too?” Karat said in her article.
She further writes about Radhika’s assertions: “You stopped my son’s stipend, you got him suspended from the university. You are the Minister for HRD, but you have no value for education. In three months, you destroyed what it had taken me 26 years to build. I am talking about my Rohith, he died at the age of 26.”
“I want to ask Modi ji (Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister), ‘For five days you remained silent. You went to Ambedkar University and when students protested you said ‘Bharat Mata has lost a son’. If you believe what you say, then why have you not taken action against those who called that son anti-national. Who is right? Is the Minister right? If so, then why did the Prime Minister call an anti-national India’s son? Who will give me these answers?'” Karat asked in her article quoting Radhika Vemula.
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“The day after thousands of students and people from all sections of society joined the March for Justice for Rohith in the capital, I went to meet Rohith’s mother Radhika,” Karat said.
“Behind the dreadful institutional murder of Rohith Vemula that has led to anger and outrage is another story – the story of hardship, the story of a daily resilience, the story of hope and courage, a story that is played out in a million Dalit homes every day, that of the Dalit woman, the Dalit mother. Radhika Vemula, now 45, is a symbol of that story that India is yet to recognize, leave alone respect,” Karat said in her article.