Police report states that Rohit Vemula’s SC certificate is fake, absolves the acquitted

Rohit Vemula

Police report states that Rohit Vemula, a research student who committed suicide due to casteist harassment in Hyderabad University, was not a Dalit. According to the report filed in the Telangana High Court today, he committed suicide in fear that the information about his true caste would come out. The accused in the case were the then Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya, MLC N. Ramachandra Rao, University VC Appa Rao, ABVP leaders and Union Minister Smriti Irani are also involved in the incident, according to the report. ‘Rohit’s mother forged a certificate claiming that he is from Scheduled Caste; there is no proof of this. Rohit knew that he was not a Scheduled Caste. “Rohit was always afraid of being caught, losing his degree and facing legal action,” says the report. The report also accuses Rohit of being more interested in student politics than studies. The report also states that when mother Radhika Vemula was asked if she was ready for a DNA test with her relatives to prove her caste, she said nothing.

Five people, including Rohit, were suspended for allegedly assaulting ABVP leader Sushil Kumar in the university. It was alleged that the pressure of Union HRD Ministry and Union Minister Smriti Irani was behind the suspension in connection with the programs conducted by Ambedkar Students Association. Rohit led a 12-day day and night strike against the suspension. Suicide was at the end of the struggle. Rohit’s JRF amount of Rs 25,000 was withheld for seven months in the name of programs conducted by the Ambedkar Students Association. Due to this, Dalit students including Rohit found it very difficult to find the cost of education. After being kicked out of the hostel, Rohit and his four classmates pitched a tent in the campus and started fasting.

It should be noted that Rohit’s caste was never an issue till his death, it was never a question when he was granted the rights for SC students or there was never an enquiy against the same. Radhika’s mother had clarified that she belongs to Mala Scheduled Caste. Radhika’s parents belong to the Mala caste. Since childhood, Radhika was under the care of a family belonging to the OBC community of Vaddera. Radhika was protected by the OBC family who got her married to Manikumar from the same family. Manikumar belongs to Vaddera community. Radhika was married to Manikumar by hiding the fact that she is a Dalit. In five years, they had five children including Rohit. It was only after that that Manikumar realized Radhika’s caste. Radhika also says that after realizing her Dalit identity, he abandoned her and her son. It should be mentioned that Radhika Vemula has consistently insisted that she is a member of the SC Mala caste and was brought up as a domestic worker by an OBC Vaddera family since she was a young girl. Mani Kumar, Rohith’s father, was a member of the Vaddera community as well. He left Radhika and her kids when he learned that she was a Dalit.

‘Maybe I’m a total failure at understanding the world. Love, pain, life, death… all can be misunderstood. Hasty was with me in life without any necessity. The rush was to start life. For some people life is a curse, my birth was a big mistake” – wrote Rohit Vemula in his suicide note ending with Jai Bheem. On January 17, 2016, Rohit Vemula was found hanging in his hostel room following the suspension of five students including himself. Vemula’s death sparked nationwide protests. The case was under the Act against incitement to suicide and violence against Scheduled Castes. This only reminds us that the ruling system in India remains casteist.

Naveen Prasad Alex is a master’s student in biological sciences at the University of Turku, Finland. He is a Junior Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and has authored two books in Malayalam. He is also passionate about Anti-caste movements, Anthropology and politics.

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