A judicial commission, comprising only of retired Allahabad High Court Judge A. K. Roopanwal, which was set up by by HRD Ministry to investigate the circumstances that led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a 26-year-old research scholar from Hyderabad Central University, has submitted its findings to the ministry. It has reportedly absolved the University administration, including V-C Appa Rao Podile, and concluded that the university administration cannot be held responsible for Vemula’s suicide.
The commission has also reportedly said that Vemula was not a Dalit. Shedding doubt on Vemula’s caste would weaken the FIR lodged by the police against five persons including Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the University Vice Chancellor as it was filed under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act. The news has not been received well by the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC), P L Punia, who has called the report ‘fake and fictitious’ and said, “The commission was formed to find out why Rohith Vemula committed suicide and who were responsible for his death. Instead of working as per the mandate, the commission was trying to find out the caste of Vemula which is unfortunate.”
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice at the University of Hyderabad echoes the same and has said that the judicial commission’s report is ‘politically motivated’. On August 27, it even organised a rally and protest on campus due to inaction by the authorities regarding Vemula’s suicide. A student from the University informed Campus Watch that around 50-70 students participated in the event. He said, “The rally started from North ShopCom around 9 pm and proceeded through the men’s hostels in the North Campus and ended at Ladies Hostel.”
The JACSJ has organised a Maha Dharna at 10 am, on August 29 at Indira Park, Hyderabad demanding implementation of the order released by NCSC and to arrest and punish all five of the alleged culprits. Radhika Vemula- the deceased’s mother, Prakash Ambedkar, Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Teesta Setalvad are expected to speak at the event.