New Delhi/Hyderabad: In an impassioned speech in Parliament, Union Education Minister Smriti Irani said because of politics, 'nobody allowed a doctor near' Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide last month.
- Smriti Irani's claim that Rohith Vemula could have been saved challenged
- He was already dead for 2 hours when I came: Doctor who declared him dead
- Video contradicts Irani's claim that police was not allowed near his body
The comments have been challenged by the doctor who declared Rohith dead and students who were present at the time.
The minister is believed to have cited a police report submitted in court, which inexplicably did not mention the doctor's visit after Rohith was found hanging at the Hyderabad Central University on January 17.
"This is how politics was played on this child and his dead body. Nobody allowed a doctor near him. The police has reported... Not one attempt was made to revive this child. Not one attempt was made to take him to a doctor. Instead his body was used as a political tool. Hidden. No police was allowed till 6.30 the next morning. Not me, but the Telangana police is saying this," Smriti Irani said on Wednesday to cries of "shame" from the government benches in the Lok Sabha.
Dr Rajasree Malpath, Chief Medical Officer at the Hyderabad Central University, says she was called in moments after Rohith was found hanging from a fan. When she came to examine Rohith, he had been dead for at least two hours, she says.
"Around 7.30 pm I got a call from the hostel. I reached within 4 minutes. I examined for pulse and BP, despite knowing he is probably dead. There was no pulse or blood pressure. His body was cold, stiff and rigid. His tongue was protruding and rigor mortis had set in," the doctor told NDTV.
A video of the room where Rohith's body was kept that day, shared by his friends, shows policemen next to the body, which contradicts the minister's claim that the police were not allowed near the body till the next morning.
The police did say that the body was not moved until 6.30 the next morning, because at least 700 students were around and the mood was volatile. "Many had petrol and kerosene and had refused to let us take away the body,'' a police officer told NDTV.
Rohith Vemula's suicide has triggered an acrimonious political debate around alleged caste discrimination in universities. Rohith, a Dalit, had been banned from the hostel and other common areas on campus for allegedly attacking an activist of the BJP-linked ABVP.