‘Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit’ says Probe Panel
In a significant development in the controversy, the one-man judicial commission, set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to probe the circumstances leading to Rohith Vemula’s suicide at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in January this year, has said that the 26-year-old research scholar did not belong to the Scheduled Caste (SC) community. According to reports the one-member Commission has submitted its report to UGC officials, though there was no official confirmation. According to a report the former Allahabad High Court judge A K Roopanwal has submitted his report to the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the first week of August, in which he made these observations.
The establishment of Vemula’s caste status is important because Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and HCU vice-chancellor Appa Rao were named in an FIR lodged by the police under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act for abetting his suicide. Reached for comment, Roopanwal did not deny submitting the report, but said, “I cannot answer your questions. Please direct all your questions on the contents of the report to the government.” Roopanwal’s report was expected on August 1 but it was ostensibly delayed over fears that it may have derail the Parliament session. Rohith Vemula’s brother Raja, however, rejected the observation of the judicial commission, stating that the family ‘lived like Dalits’ and were brought up among Dalits. He claimed that the family had been discriminated against all their lives.