Opposition slams Smriti Irani for harassing AUSU president Richa Singh

NEW DELHI(PTI): The Opposition on Tuesday said HRD Minister Smriti Irani is acting like the patron saint of ABVP and accused the Modi government of harassing Allahabad University Students’ Union president Richa Singh.

Richa Singh, president, AUSU.

Drawing parallel with Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad University and the JNU row involving Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, the Opposition leaders in a joint statement trained their guns on Ms. Irani reminding her that she is a Minister of the entire country and not just the RSS and BJP.

Jairam Ramesh and Rajeev Shukla (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D. Raja (CPI), K.C. Tyagi (JD-U), Javed Ali Khan (Samajwdi Party), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Bhagwant Man (AAP) and Jaiprakash Yadav (RJD), who signed the joint statement, said they are “aghast” that university administration across the region are “hunting” students, who have a different view than that of the ABVP.

“We are agonised over the fact that the first-ever lady president of Allahabad University Students’ Union Richa Singh is being harassed by the administration,” they said.

“A government, which refuses to learn that autonomy of education institution is foundation of democracy, is sowing widespread discontent in campuses by its blatant support to ABVP’s goondaism,” they said.

Noting that Ms. Singh, a PhD scholar, had won as an independent candidate in Allahabad University while all the other seats were won by ABVP, the leaders claimed that she came into the eye of the storm for protesting against the proposed visit of BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.

“ABVP members allegedly attacked the protestors but instead of investigating the attack, an enquiry was set up on Richa Singh herself. Further, there is a move now by the Vice-Chancellor to declare her admission null and void, using some technical grounds, in order to get rid of what appears to be the only thorn in ABVP’s side.

“It is her (Irani’s) responsibility to encourage and protect all constitutional freedoms in university campuses. If Richa Singh is made a victim of ABVP’s diktats, on the heels of Rohith Vemula and Kanhaiya Kumar, then the students of this nation will be forced to rise in revolt,” the statement said.