In what can surprise many, the one-man judicial commission set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to probe Rohith Vemula’s suicide claims that the 26-year old Hyderabad Central University (HCU) student did not belong to Scheduled Caste community.
As per sources in UGC,Former Allahabad High Court judge A K Roopanwal, was appointed by the then HRD Minister Smriti Irani, has submitted his report to the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the first week of August.
The observation is significant in the aspect that Vemula’s suicide led to a controversy which involved the likes of Smriti Irani to JNU students. Moreover, his non-Dalit identity is important against the backdrop of the controversy fuelled by Sushma Swaraj and Thaawarchand Gehlot who had questioned the student’s caste.
Also, the observation might lead to a fresh protest as Union Minister Banadaru Dattatreya and HCU vice-chancellor Appa Rao were named in the FIR lodged by police under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act for abetting his suicide.
“You seem to be more knowledgeable than me on this issue. I was out of the city for the last five days and haven’t seen this report. Maybe it was submitted to the UGC. I will have to check and get back,” said New HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in a conversation with The Indian Express.
Reacting to this, Vemula’s brother Raja said that they have always lived like Dalits and have been raised in one. They have been discriminated and that’s what Rohith hinted in his suicide note as well.
However, P L Punia, chairman of the NCSC, told The Indian Express, “The District Collector is the final authority in this matter. He has already submitted a report that Vemula was a Dalit. All records and investigations proved he was a Dalit. What was the need for this new committee? I don’t know what this new report is all about.”
“The BJP government and its ministers have been trying to prove since the beginning that he was not a Dalit. Obviously, they want to favour their minister who is facing an FIR. There can’t be a bigger example of anti-Dalit mentality by this government. It’s a conspiracy against Dalits, ” added Punia.
When Roopanwal was contacted for a comment, he said, “I cannot answer your questions. Please direct all your questions on the contents of the report to the government.”
Rohith committed suicide on January 17 this year. His death sparked protests across the country and gained widespread attention as an alleged case of discrimination surfaced in an emancipated time and from a high-ranking educational institute.