“My name is Rohith Vemula, I am a Dalit from Guntur” – this is what Rohith Vemula said days before he allegedly committed suicide in January. A WhatsApp video purportedly showing Hyderabad Central University (HCU) research scholar Rohith Vemula claiming that he is a Dalit has emerged and has gone viral.
The video has emerged days after the judicial panel reportedly rejected his caste status in its probe report. The video is appeared to have been shot at a tent (named as ‘Dalit ghetto’) near the Shopcom area in HCU. Vemula and his other colleagues had stayed at the tent following their suspension. Vemula can be seen talking about himself and his background in the video.
He is purportedly seen describing himself as a Dalit from Guntur district (of Andhra Pradesh) and that his mother raised him. Vemula also talked about his suspension, his studies and students’ activism in the video clip.
After he committed suicide, Vemula’s family members, friends besides political parties alleged that he was a victim of caste discrimination.
Students, political parties and social groups had demanded that a ‘Rohith Act’ be brought to end the alleged discrimination in educational institutions against the students belonging to disadvantaged sections.
In its report, the Justice Roopanwal Commission, set up by Union HRD Ministry, has stated that material on record did not establish that Vemula was a Dalit and attributed his suicide to personal reasons.
The report also gave a clean chit to Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya besides absolving HCU authorities of any blame for Vemula’s death.
The Commission is learnt to have raised questions about Vemula’s caste status as a Dalit saying that there is no proof that his mother V Radhika belonged to “Mala” community.
(With PTI inputs)