Dalit student suicide: Case filed against Union Minister, Vice-Chancellor

Social media storm forces HRD Ministry to send probe team.

January 18, 2016 03:12 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:00 pm IST - Hyderabad

On a day of high drama following the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), a case was filed against four persons, including Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya and University Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao.

Tension prevailed on the UoH campus ever since Vemula committed suicide on Sunday evening. On Monday, police entered the premises and removed his body. Before he took his life, the 25-year-old Ph.D. scholar and four others, who had been suspended 14 days earlier, were sleeping in the open after expulsion from their hostels.

The suicide triggered a social media storm forcing the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) into action. It has sent a two-member fact-finding team to Hyderabad. “We will enquire into the matter in detail,” Shakila Shamsu, joint adviser, MHRD told The Hindu .

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, condoling the death, said: “ Everyone knows that in Central Universities, the administrative control belongs only to the varsity. The government has no role to play.”

I have no role in this episode: Dattatreya

The five Dalit students of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) had been on a sleep-in strike in the open on the University of Hyderabad campus ever since their expulsion.

On Sunday morning, following his 14th night out, Vemula had left the protesters’ camp and spent the day in one of the rooms of the New Research Scholars’ hostel.

The same evening at 7.30 p.m., he was found hanging in the room. The Gachchibowli Police registered a case naming Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya, Vice-Chancellor P. Appa Rao and ABVP leader N. Susheel Kumar under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

“I have not been named in the suicide note. I have nothing to do with it. I just received a petition about activities in the UoH which I forwarded to the MHRD. I have no role in this episode,” Mr. Dattatreya told The Hindu .

Vemula’s five-page poignant suicide note, which went viral, triggered grief and much finger-pointing online.

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