The HRD ministry had written as many as five letters to Hyderabad University on Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya’s complaint regarding "anti national activities" on the campus and the "violent attack" on an ABVP leader but maintained it was standard procedure on such "VIP references".

Questions have been raised about the HRD ministry’s five letters, which have been blamed as one of the major reasons for the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student, which has snowballed into a massive political row.

HRD officials however claimed that after Dattatreya, MP from Secunderabad, wrote the letter on August 17 last year, the ministry only followed the standard practice by writing to the University on September 3, seeking the "issues raised by the MoS may be examined and facts intimated."

"It would be wrong to say that the Ministry has put any pressure on the Hyderabad University. The Ministry had only followed the procedure as per the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure.

"According to the procedure, if there is a VIP reference, it has to be acknowledged in 15 days and another 15 days may be taken to reply to it. Since no response was coming from the University, the Ministry had to send reminders," HRD Ministry spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel said.

After its first letter, the ministry sent four reminders on – September 24, October 6, October 20 and November 19 last year, to the University seeking facts expeditiously so that it could respond to the Minister of State Dattatreya.

HRD officials said the University finally provided a reply only on January 7, this year.

An official said not only are the ministries supposed to reply in a time bound manner to VIP reference, but even in Cabinet meetings, the number of pending references, greivances, assurances etc has to be shared which makes it important that these are pursued.

HRD minister Smriti Irani, who on Tuesday visited Assam and accompanied the Prime Minister to IIIT Guwahati, had on Monday said the government neither intervenes in functioning of the university nor does it have administrative control over it.