Rohith Vemula lived and died as a Mala (Dalit), said his mother V. Radhika.
Addressing the media and students on the University of Hyderabad campus on a day of high drama, where it was alleged that Rohith belonged to the Vaddera or BC community, she asked why people were raising questions on which marginalised community he belonged to, instead of probing into his death.
Ms. Radhika and Rohith’s sister, Neelima, rejected the Rs. 8 lakh ex-gratia offered by the university, saying that their protest would end only when the culprits who drove Rohith to suicide were brought to book.
The University of Hyderabad’s Teachers’ Association, however, remained divided for the second day on supporting students, as many faculty members refused to admit that there could be “systemic failure” on the campus.
Ms. Radhika said she agreed she was married to a Vaddera man and later got separated from her husband. But, as she belonged to the Mala caste, though raised by a Vaddera family since the age of five, she had raised her three children within the Mala community.
V. Raja Chaitanya, Rohith’s sibling, said: “Rohith never used his SC status for reservation. He cleared CSIR fellowship twice. But he was identified by his caste certificate and hence was targeted.”