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Telangana Police Closes Rohith Vemula File, Absolves Former VC and BJP Leaders

The closure report in the case that was filed under SC/ST (PoA) Act alleges that Rohith was not a Dalit and claims that he died because he was afraid that this would be discovered.

The Telangana police has filed a closure report in the case involving the death of University of Hyderabad (UoH) PhD scholar Rohith Vemula who died by suicide in January 2016 and absolved the then Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya, Member of Legislative Council N Ramachander Rao, and Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, ABVP leaders and Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani. The report, which will be submitted in the Telangana High Court on Friday, May 3 said that Rohith did not belong to the Scheduled Caste category and speculated that he died by suicide fearing that his “real caste identity” would be discovered. It also alleges that the caste certificates of the family were forged without providing any evidence for the same. Interestingly, the report comes four months after the Congress government came into power in Telangana.

The report has been released just 10 days before Telangana votes in the Lok Sabha polls on May 13. Congress had extended support to the ‘Justice for Vemula campaign’ in 2016 with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi even assuring that a law named Rohith Vemula Act would be implemented to “safeguard the right to education and dignity” for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and minorities. In fact, during his recent Bharat Jodo Yatra, he had invited Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula to join the Congress.

However, neither the Telangana Congress nor the Central leadership has responded to the closure report so far. When contacted, leaders of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and relatives of Rohith Vemula, including his mother Radhika, refrained from issuing statements until the court hearing on Friday.

While the case was primarily registered under Section 306 (Abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act, the closure report mostly discusses Vemula’s caste location and not the reasons behind his death in itself. “There is no evidence of any fact or circumstance available on the record which dragged him to commit suicide and no one is responsible for his death,” the report reads.

The closure report states that Rohith was “aware that he does not belong to the Scheduled Caste” and that his mother got him the SC certificate. It states that this could have been one of Rohith’s constant fears as the revelation of this would result in loss of academic degrees and could be prosecuted.

The police’s closure report. by Taniya Roy on Scribd

It must be noted that Radhika Vemula has throughout maintained that she belonged to the SC Mala caste and was raised as a house help by a Vaddera OBC family from her childhood. Rohith’s father Mani Kumar also belonged to the Vaddera community and abandoned Radhika and her children after he discovered her Dalit identity.

According to the report, Rohith took his life as “he had his own problems and was not happy with worldly affairs” and absolves university administration and political leaders including Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, against whom the students filed the case. Despite his stellar academic performance, the report also blames Rohith for “appearing to be involved more in student political issues in the campus than studies.”

“If he would have been angry with the decision of the University, certainly either he would have written in specific words or would have indicated in this regard. But he did not do the same. It shows that the circumstances prevailing in the university at the time were not the reason for Rohith’s death,” the report adds.

These observations have been made despite the fact that Rohith wrote a sarcastic letter to Appa Rao criticising the administration in a scathing manner about the treatment meted out to students from the Dalit community. “Please serve 10 mg of Sodium Azide to all Dalit students at the time of admission with directions to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar. Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from companion, the great Chief Warden,” he had written, adding that euthanasia should be made available to students like him.

The closure report also notes that the Investigating Officer (IO) while questioning Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula asked her if she was willing to undergo a DNA test to determine her caste location. “She remained silent when I asked her whether she is willing to undergo a DNA test to compare with samples of her family members to determine whether they were biologically related to her or not,” reads the report.

The report further argues that expelling Rohith and other Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) leaders from their hostels was “one of the punishments prescribed in the university disciplinary rules.” According to the report, the rules referred to are ‘in keeping with Clause Proctor 9(1) and 9 (2) of the Statues of University of Hyderabad.’

The University administration had ordered that aside from their schools/departments, library and other academic seminars, the students were neither permitted access to hostel, administrative building and other public places nor were they allowed to participate in student elections. The report justifies this prohibition claiming that the clause was invoked to ‘prevent them from committing further disturbance in the administrative block in the name of protest.’

This article was originally published on The News Minute.

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