National News

My name is Rohith Vemula, I am a Dalit: Deceased scholar says in video released by friends

He said his battle against ABVP was nothing new, but the administration took stern steps against five Dalit students after a fight with the BJP student wing.

Friends of deceased scholar Rohith Vemula, who killed himself in January 2016, have released a video where the Hyderabad University student is heard reaffirming his Dalit identity. The video is an attempt to rebut the report of a government commission that has concluded that Vemula killed himself because of personal reasons and not discrimination at the hands of the university administration.

In the video, Vemula says that trouble started after a fight with students of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. He said that though his clashes with the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party were nothing new, the administration took stern steps against five Dalit students, including Vemula. He says, "Recently the university has taken the decision to suspend five Dalit students and they have expelled us from hostel premises and they have said that the notice we serve says that our presence in public places, hostel premises and administration building can be treated as criminal acts."

Among other things, he also said that he was the son of a daily wage labourer and his research fellowship got him admission to the social science school of the university as a “general category student”. His friends said they could not release the video earlier because they did not have access to the laptop that was seized by the police when they were arrested in March for protesting against the university administration, NDTV reported. They said the video was shot for a Facebook campaign only days before he killed himself.

In its report submitted earlier this month, the Justice Roopanwal Commission has observed that there was no evidence to prove that Vemula’s mother belonged to the “Mala” Dalit community. The Roopanwal Commission had also exonerated the university's Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and other authorities implicated in the case. Podile had come under fire after Vemula's suicide for allegedly suspending him from the institute because of his caste. While he had taken a two-month sabbatical from the varsity following the incident, the government had earlier said he would not be transferred.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has dismissed the report calling it "totally wrong". The NCSC had earlier concluded that Vemula was a Dalit and suggested that his family be granted benefits such as a house, employment and monetary assistance. Vemula’s friends and family have also criticised the panel findings. His mother said, "It's a report to protect the culprits. They have wrongly gone after his caste to prove us wrong."

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.