On the first death anniversary of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula today, his mother Radhika Vemula alleged that governments were desperate to declare him as OBC.
On the first death anniversary of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula today, his mother Radhika Vemula alleged that governments were desperate to declare him as OBC. “Governments are desperate to declare Rohit as Other Backward Class (OBC). After my son’s demise…they are now behind me. They want to declare my son as OBC. I know what humiliation I have undergone being Dalit in the society,” she alleged.
Radhika was addressing a group of students as part of the ‘Shahadat Din’ organised at the main entrance gate of University of Hyderabad (UoH) here. Rohith was found hanging in a hostel room on UoH campus. Radhika questioned why there was a delay in arresting the accused, including UoH Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and others, who have been booked under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and for abetment of Rohith’s suicide.
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A section of students under the aegis of Joint Action Committee for Social Justice – UOH had said that they would gather at the ‘Rohit Stupa’ on the varsity campus to remember his legacy and to vow that the fight will go on against “casteism and communalism”. However, nobody was allowed inside the campus.
Earlier in the day, police took 19 protesters, including three UoH students, into preventive custody for trying to gatecrash the university. They were later let off. Addressing the group, Rohith’s brother Raja Vemula alleged, “During inquiry at the Guntur Collector office (with regard to the caste status of Rohith) they insulted my mother by questioning her character. She was also questioned how she raised her kids.” “Whoever is raising his voice in the country is being labelled as ‘anti-national’,” he alleged, adding, “Unless we get justice, we will continue to fight till our death.”
Radhika later requested the UoH security personnel to allow her to at least visit the ‘Rohith Stupa’ on the campus, but was denied permission. She, along with Raja and others, was also taken away by police. Raising questions on Rohith Vemula’s Dalit status, a commission constituted by the HRD ministry after the scholar’s death, had said that the material on record did not establish the caste of the deceased and attributed his suicide to personal reasons.
However, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman P L Punia had rejected the judicial commission’s report on Vemula’s suicide as “fake and fictitious”, and said the deceased research scholar was a Dalit. A group of students under Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, which spearheaded the protests, at UoH, also known as Hyderabad Central University (HCU) had held UoH Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile responsible for the suicide of the research scholar.
The section of students under JAC have been demanding removal of Appa Rao Podile from the Vice Chancellor’s post and had also sought his arrest. Jaan Mohammed, brother of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched in September 2015 on suspicion of storing and consuming beef and a few dalits who were thrashed by ‘cow vigilantes’ at Una in Gujarat last year also addressed the crowd at the university main gate and expressed their solidarity.