The mother of the Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, who killed himself accusing Hyderabad University administration of caste discrimination, has been served with a show-cause notice to prove her Scheduled Caste status. Radhika Vemula has been given 15 days to furnish proof to that she is, in fact, a Dalit, The Hindu reported on Tuesday. This came after the District-Level Scrutiny Committee in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh submitted a report saying that the family belongs to the Other Backward Classes category.
“Yes, we have submitted the report. We have conducted a detailed inquiry, and found he was not a Dalit as claimed by his family,” Guntur Collector Kantilal Dande told CNN-News18. He said if the family fails to prove their claim, their Scheduled Caste certificate would be cancelled. The reported said the family got the certificate through fraudulent means.
Though the Guntur district collector in April 2016 had told the National Commission for Scheduled Castes that Rohith Vemula belonged to the Dalit community, he later ordered a probe into the matter. Dalit and student associations have held that the probe was ordered because of pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre and the Telugu Desam Party-led state government.
Rohith’s brother, Raja Chaitanya, said they were thinking of moving court against the report. Radhika Vemula said she was humiliated by the revenue officials who had questioned her as part of the inquiry on November 2. “I had a humiliating experience of being subjected to grilling by RDO, Gurazala, and many revenue personnel. They subjected me to humiliation asking repeatedly as to how I have supported my family, as I have separated from my husband,” she said.
Rohith was found hanging by his neck in a hostel room on January 17, 2016. The university Vice Chancellor Podile Appa Rao, Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, BJP MLC N Ramachandra Rao and ABVP leaders Susheel Kumar and Krishna Chaitanya were named in the chargesheet filed in the case.
Rao recently received an award for his contribution in the field of bio-tech and higher education. The “Millennium Plaques of Honour” was presented to him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Indian Science Congress on January 3. It was strongly criticised by the the joint action committee of the university and academics. Rao has also been accused of plagiarism.