Two Letters to Irani:JNU Student Charged with Sedition, a Dalit Mother Whose Son Died in IIT-B
NEW DELHI: Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s speech in Parliament on the JNU, HCU issue has ignited a spate of response, with extremely sharp and courageous responses from ‘victims’, both present and past.
Two responses, from a student who the police have named in their sedition case, and the other from a mother whose son---a Dalit student in IIT-B---committed suicide stand out who has written to the Minister before and received no response.
Ananth Prakash Narayan, in his open letter to Irani says that his mother is not fearful, and while worried is encouraging him to fight on. Sunita Ambhore, whose sons death was pronounced as an accident, but is believed to have been a suicide writes a second letter, the first being ignored by the Minister, saying that her speech in Parliament recently was “arrogant”.
Ananth Prakash has written to Irani in Hindi, saying. "I heard the speech you gave in Parliament. I want to make it clear that this letter is not from a 'child' to a 'motherly' Minister but from one political person to another political person.”
"I also want to make it clear that I do not judge a person's merit by her educational qualification. In fact, I reject the concept of merit," he said referring clearly to the controversy over the Ministers degrees, something she refers to quite regularly in her public statements.
"You assert your identity as a woman and you must do that because women are among those groups who have been oppressed for long. But Vemula's mother, a Dalit woman, fought with this patriarchal society to raise her kids and gave them her identity but why is your government associating the identity of her children to her husband," Ananth Prakash wrote.
"Are you standing with a Brahmanical and patriarchal society? Why are you snatching away her right to have an independent identity," the letter said as translated by the Press Trust of India from the Hindi.
The JNU student asked Irani to read Manusmriti and said that he hopes she would leave the BJP once she reads it as a woman.
"You said in your speech that politics is happening over Rohit's murder but you are not so naive to not understand that he died due to saffron politics," the letter said.
"Don't you know the process of natural justice that a decision cannot be taken without listening to the party concerned. We were debarred by an inquiry committee without even listening to us. Should you not have been cautious to not announce our names in the Parliament in the most unconstitutional manner," he added.
"Rohith's mother is not begging you for justice, my mother is not crying for me too. She is concerned of course but she is encouraging me to fight against the fascist forces and is advising me to not be scared," he added.
The second letter, also in Hindi, is a sharp response from a mother Sunita Ambhore. Her son Aniket Ambhore - a student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) ---was not doing well academically and was found dead in September 2014 in what was claimed to have been an accidental fall. That he basically slipped and fell off the sixth floor of the hostel building. But most believed it to be a case of suicide, with the traumatic mother writing to Minister Irani but getting no response. She has reminded Irani in an open letter:
Dear HRD minister Smriti Iraniji,
We had written to you regarding the current student scenario, wishing that whatever ill occurred to my son doesn’t happen again with any other student; and there be a healthy environment in all of educational campuses, for SC/ST students in order to help them flourish.
This appeal was made to you on 29th Nov ‘14. But, no action has been taken for it yet. You claimed that you resolved 61,892 cases that had come to your ministry from May 1, 2014, till date. But, our request isn’t one of them.
A large number of outstation students study in the respective IIT branches, staying away from home. The gap that needs to be filled is that if any student isn’t performing well in academics, or is suffering from any stress, isn’t it the responsibility of the institute to inform his/her parents about this? Had the management at IIT-B taken this step, the unfortunate wouldn’t have happened.
All these concerns were written to you, expecting fair...amendments in the functioning. Also, the speech that you made yesterday in the Lok Sabha was very arrogant and did not help in the discussion that was expected. Students look forward to an open and stress-free environment. Such justifications have only widened the tension amongst students. We were expecting you to make a statement that would’ve help us fight our sorrows; instead, your speech sounded like you only cared about your ‘safe-side’ and justifications pertaining to Rohith’s case.
(The letter has been translated from Hindi by MId Day)