NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (IANS): The suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad University created an uproar in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, as Bahujan Samaj Party members raised slogans against the government and angry exchanges were seen in the house of elders.
The issue was raised by BSP leader Mayawati soon after the house met at 11 am.
"This is not the first time a Dalit student committed suicide," the BSP leader said.
"Rohith Vemula was an Ambedkar supporter. The RSS did not like this, he was exploited," Mayawati said referring to B.R. Ambedkar, the author of the Constitution who was a Dalit.
This was followed by sloganeering by BSP members, who called the government "anti-Dalit".
Amid the din, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned five times in the pre-lunch session, and when the house met at 2 p.m., angry exchanges were witnessed between Mayawati and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.
Mayawati wanted the government to disclose if there will be a Dalit member oln the judicial committee looking into the circumstances around Vemula's suicide in the Hyderabad University.
"A Dalit professor was there whose decision you would not have accepted... You want to say Mayawati ji, a Dalit is a Dalit only if Mayawati ji gives a certificate?" Irani said, causing a huge uproar among the protesting members.
Angry exchanges were seen between Irani and Mayawati, as BSP members once again raised slogans demanding justice for Vemula's family.
They alleged that the government was anti-Dalit.
"Rohith ke parivar ko, nyay do, nyay do", "Dalit virdohi sarkar, nahin chalegi, nahin chalegi", the BSP members shouted incessantly in front of the chairman's podium.
In the din, the house was adjourned for 15 minutes.
When the house met again, Mayawati said the discussion on the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Vemula issues should not be merged.
"These are both important matters... It would have been better had the discussions been separate. When we saw both issues have been taken together, we felt this issue (Vemula's suicide) will be suppressed. So, we had to raise the issue. There was no big demand, we just wanted to know if the judicial committee has a Dalit member. There should have been yes or no answer," Mayawati said.
Irani said: "I am willing to answer any question."