Hyderabad university
Dalit student's suspension in Hyderabad University not related to his caste, says Smriti Irani. Picture: Students stage a demonstration against the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) in Hyderabad on 18 January, 2016.IANS

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said Rohith Vemula's expulsion was not related to his caste.

"A group of students allegedly attacked another student; we have ascertained that this is not a Dalit versus non-Dalit confrontation," ANI quoted Irani as saying.

The HRD minister also said the suspended students had challenged the order but the high court had refused to put a stay on it.

Fielding blame, which has been heaped on the HRD Ministry, Irani said the Executive Council of the University of Hyderabad had been nominated by the previous Congress government.

She added that Rohith Vemula's suicide note doesn't name any Member of Parliament (MP), university official or organisation for his death.

"Bandaru Dattatreya ji was not the only MP who expressed concern on Hyderbad University as Congress MP Hanumantha Rao also wrote to us," ANI quoted her as saying.

Congress MP Rao issued a statement after Irani's press conference saying, "I wrote a letter to Smriti Irani ji on different issue, regarding students issue and corruption."

Saying she was not quoting conjectures but facts, she reiterated that Vemula's suspension was not a Dalit-versus-non-Dalit issue.

Irani, who was speaking at a press conference, said: "If Congress had fixed it back then, possibly Rohith would have been alive today", in reference to Rao's letter that said troublesome incidents had been happening at Hyderabad University for four years.

Students have been protesting in the university campus since Sunday, when 26-year-old Vemula, a Dalit PhD student, was discovered dead in a hostel room.

Politicians such as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien have since visited the campus and spoken to the protesters, which has been seen by many as an affert to gain political mileage. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is also scheduled to visit.