Rohith Vemula wasn’t Dalit, didn’t commit suicide due to external factors: Report

New Delhi: Hyderabad University Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula did not commit suicide because of any pressure exerted by union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya or university`s Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and that it was a decision “of his own”, an inquiry commission has found.

“(T)he suicide did not relate to any activities of the university administration or the political leaders (then HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya), including Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile. It was wholly a decision of his own.

“His suicide note is on the record, which shows that Rohith Vemula had his own problems and was not happy with the worldly affairs,” said the report of the commission set up by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry.

The one-man commission, headed by Allahabad High Court judge (retd.) A.K. Roopanwal, was constituted in 2016 following Vemula`s suicide that triggered protests by students in Hyderabad and elsewhere.

The commission had submitted its findings to the HRD Ministry in December 2016, which was made public on Tuesday.

“He (Vemula) did not blame anybody for his suicide. If he would have been angry with the decision of the university, certainly either he would have written in specific words or would have indicated in this regard….

“This shows that the circumstances prevailing in the university at that time were not the reason for committing suicide,” it said.

The report also sought to clarify that Vemula did not belong to the Scheduled Castes category. He came from “Vaddera” community, and thus belonged to the OBC category, it said.

“The evidence on record shows that she (Vemula`s mother) belongs to Vaddera community and, therefore, the Scheduled Castes certificate issued to Rohith Vemula cannot be said to be a genuine one and he was not a Scheduled Caste person,” it said.

Vemula`s mother V. Radhika claimed to hail from “Mala” community, which is considered a Scheduled Caste. After getting divorce from her husband V. Manikumar — who belonged to Vaddera community — in 1990, she alone raised Vemula.

Moreover, the commission did not find any proof of discrimination against Vemula on account of his caste, which could have eventually led to his suicide.

“Nothing has been brought before me by which it could be shown that he was ever given a different treatment from that to the General category students by the university authorities during his stay in the university,” it stated.

Vemula was among the four students, who had been barred from accessing the hostel premises and other public spaces within the university as a proctorial inquiry punishment in August 2015, for abusing and beating up ABVP activist N. Susheel Kumar over a Facebook post.

Vemula committed suicide on January 17, 2016, by hanging.