I am not your child: JNU student’s open letter to Smriti Irani

New Delhi: Asserting that he is not a “child”, a term used by HRD Minister Smriti Irani to refer to Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Parliament, one of the six JNU students accused of sedition has said in an open letter to her that he is instead her political “opponent”.

“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,” said the open letter by Anant Prakash.

“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 further said.

Prakash said that while the minister asserts her identity as a woman, she had failed to stand with Vemula’s mother.

“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.

“Are you standing with a Brahmanical and patriarchal society? Why are you snatching away her right to have an independent identity,” the letter said.

Prakash also asked Irani to read Manusmriti and said that he hopes she would leave 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 na ve to not understand that he died due to saffron politics.

“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.
Students and teachers have alleged that Irani had quoted in Parliament from a “half-cooked” report submitted by the university without any investigation.

“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.

Anant, a former JNU students’ union vice president, is among the five students police were looking for in connection with a sedition case over an event on campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

They had disappeared following the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on February 12 and resurfaced back on campus last Sunday.

While Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya surrendered before police, the remaining three — Ashutosh, Anant and Rama Naga — are residing on campus. They have refused to surrender but asserted that they are open to questioning by police during the course of investigation.