Rohith Vemula not a Dalit, says police closure report; absolves varsity officials, BJP leaders

Hyderabad: The Cyberabad police has filed a closure report in the suicide case of University of Hyderabad research scholar Rohith Vemula, who it said was not a Dalit, and absolving university authorities and leaders of the BJP and the ABVP.

Stating that multiple issues would have driven him to end his life, the police concluded that it found no evidence to establish that the actions of the accused persons drove him to the extreme step.

Citing “lack of evidence”, the police filed the closure report before the court on March 21 but it has now come to light.

Vemula’s suicide in his hostel room on January 17, 2016, triggered massive unrest on the central university campus, led to huge protests in various other universities, and raised questions about the treatment meted out to students from marginalised sections of society.

A case under Section 306 (Abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Prevention of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) Atrocities Act was registered at Gachibowli police station of the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate.

The case was registered on a complaint by research scholar and leader of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) Dontha Prashanth.

University Vice Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile, BJP Legislative Council member N. Ramachandra Rao and ABVP activist Susheel Kumar were named in the First Information Report (FIR).

Susheel Kumar had complained of an assault by activists of the ASA), of which Vemula was a member, in 2015. That led to the suspension of five Dalit scholars, including Vemula.

The ASA leaders had said that then Secunderabad MP and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya influenced then Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani to take action against Dalit students at the UoH. More than eight years after the incident, the police have absolved former Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, Dattatreya, Ramachandra Rao, and ABVP activists

The police ruled out that Vemula belonged to a Scheduled Caste. The closure report mentioned that the ‘caste clarification report’ by the District Level Scrutiny Committee constituted by the District Collector, Guntur, conclusively decided that Vemula and his family belong to BC-A (Vaddera) caste but they had obtained SC certificates fraudulently.

The closure report suggests that Vemula’s suicide was driven by the fear of his true caste being disclosed, as he did not identify himself as belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) category. According to the report, Vemula was aware that he did not belong to the SC category and that his mother got him an SC certificate.

This could be one of the constant fears, as the exposure of this would cause him to lose his academic degrees earned over the years and be compelled to face prosecution, the report said. The police noted that Vemula had multiple issues plaguing him which could have led him to kill himself.

The police investigations covered various aspects like the letters Rohith Vemula addressed to the Vice Chancellor, the suicide note, the records and discrepancies related to his scholarship disbursal, and the University Board’s recommendations and disciplinary action. The police also relied on the inquiry and findings in the report of the Commission headed by Justice Ashok Kumar Roopanwala (retd), which deliberated “whether the punishment awarded to Rohith Vemula was the circumstance to commit suicide?”

Police said that no evidence could be found to establish that the actions of the accused had driven Vemula to kill himself.


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