Rohith Vemula’s Dalit status not established, says Commission

Rohith Vemula  

Raising questions over the Dalit status of the late Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula, a commission constituted by the Human Resource Development Ministry after his death has said the material on record did not establish it and attributed his suicide to personal reasons.

The Justice Roopanwal Commission, in a report submitted to the Ministry, has given a clean chit to Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, sources said.

The university authorities too have been absolved of any blame for Vemula’s death, as the Commission held that they were not working under political pressure.

The Commission is learnt to have raised questions about Vemula’s caste status as a Dalit, saying there is no proof that his mother V. Radhika belonged to the Mala community.

The Commission is learnt to have said that Vemula’s mother could have given the statement that she belonged to the Mala community to support the caste certificate that was issued to Vemula.

The Commission noted mS Radhika was not told the names of her biological parents by her foster family, according to the sources.

It is, therefore, unlikely that she would have been told the caste of her biological parents, the Commission is understood to have said.

HRD Ministry officials have, however, maintained that ascertaining the caste status of Vemula was not part of the Terms of Reference of the Commission. Therefore, they would only focus on those recommendations which aim at ensuring that such incidents do not happen in the future.

The suicide of Vemula triggered a huge political furore, with the then HRD minister Smriti Irani coming under attack along with Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya for having written a letter related to the matter.

It is learnt that the Commission felt that Vemula committed sucide because of his “personal frustrations.”

In its recommendation, the Commission emphasised that there should be a proper counselling mechanism, not just for students, but also for research scholars.

The sources said that in its recommendations, the Commission also emphasised that there should be proper grievance redressal mechanisms and equal opportunity cells so as to prevent unfortunate incidents like Vemula suicide.