Rohith Vemula, a PhD student in the University of Hyderabad, had committed suicide in January last year. While there were intense protests by students across the country demanding justice for him, the government has from the beginning alleged that he was not a Dalit. HRD Minister Smriti Irani had alleged that the caste issue was brought in because of political reasons.
In a latest twist to the tragedy, The Hindustan Times, in an exclusive, reports that the probe report that declared Vemula a 'non-Dalit' was based on testimonies of only two people while the opinion of five others had been rejected.
The report presented by Guntur collector Kantilal Dande earlier this month had alleged that his Dalit certificate was fraudulent and asked his family to reply with 15 days justifying why his certificate should not be cancelled.
The collector suggested that he actually belonged to Other Backward Classes.
Jai Bhimrao, the advocate who is fighting the case was quoted by The Hindustan Times as saying, "Once Rohith is certified a non-Dalit, those in the dock for allegedly abetting his suicide will not be tried under the more stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It is a simple game to protect the accused."
An RTI inquiry requesting the probe report on Vemula's death be made public was also rejected by the HRD ministry in January this year.
It was said that since it was "under submission" it could not be made public, after which an appeal was filed with the First Appellate Authority of the ministry.
In a reply to the appeal filed by PTI, the HRD Ministry had said, "As such I do not find any infirmity with the reply of the Central Public Information Officer (given earlier) and your appeal stands disposed of as far as the answering Appellate Authority is concerned."
Vemula and four other Dalits were not allowed in parts of the university, including the library and hostel, after which Vemula committed suicide.
In his suicide note Vemula had said, "The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living."
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