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Protestors at the University of Hyderabad on Thursday. Photo: PTI
Protestors at the University of Hyderabad on Thursday. Photo: PTI

University of Hyderabad students protest report on Rohith Vemula’s death

The Roopanwal Commission report says Rohith Vemula committed suicide last year because he was 'a troubled individual', not because of caste discrimination

Hyderabad: About 250 students and some faculty members of the University of Hyderabad protested against the Roopanwal Commission’s report on Rohith Vemula’s death last year.

The Roopanwal Commission report says research scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide last year because he was “a troubled individual", not because of caste discrimination. The report also says Vemula was not a Dalit.

The protestors burnt copies of the report as a mark of protest on Thursday evening. The students, who have come together under a ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ campaign, also plan to carry forward their protests in the coming days, said Munna Sannaki, president of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) in UoH. Sannaki said there are a lot of lapses in the findings of the Roopanwal Commission.

The commission’s findings have also been opposed by the Centre for Dalit Studies (CDS) and other organisations, who held a press conference on Wednesday.

The one-man commission, headed by justice (retd) Ashok Kumar Roopanwal, was constituted by the ministry of human resource development to look into the facts and circumstances leading to Vemula’s suicide on UoH campus on 17 January 2016. The death caused a storm of protest at the university and elsewhere, including Parliament.

The commission’s report stated that Vemula’s mother V. Radhika had given an affidavit stating that she belonged to the Vaddera community which is not a scheduled caste (SC), but falls under the other backward classes (OBC) category.

Laxminarayana, a professor at UoH, who addressed the press conference, said people in Andhra Pradesh are legally prohibited from ascertaining someone’s caste and that Roopanwala going into it and giving a “noisy finding" is both “illegal and unethical".

Laxminarayana and CDS members said that Banala Anjani Devi, the adoptive mother of Radhika Vemula, gave a statement before the joint collector of Guntur on 2 February 2016, categorically stating that Radhika is an SC. “Since this statement was given just 10 days before her death, it is as good as a dying declaration. This statement was given seven months before Roopanwala gave his report was also available and staring at him," Laxminarayana said.

Vemula was punished along with four other Dalit research scholars over a scuffle that took place on the campus with members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The end result was that the administration barred them from student union elections, hostels and from gathering in a group. After days of protest, Vemula committed suicide in his hostel.

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