Opposition parties and activists on Wednesday criticised the Centre’s inquiry panel report that said University of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula had not committed suicide because he had been expelled. They called the report, which concluded that Vemula had ended his life because he “had his own problems”, a biased one.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded an inquiry into the matter by a sitting Supreme Court judge, reported PTI. Justice Ashok Kumar Roopanwal had headed this one-member panel set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development after Vemula committed suicide in January 2016. “What can a retired judge say when the government has already made up its mind?” questioned Azad.
Another Congress leader, Rajeev Gowda, called the report a sham. “It insults the memory of Vemula and the tragedy of his suicide,” he said. “He was driven to death by mistreatment, harassment by varsity and intervention of central ministers into the issue.”
Scholar and Dalit rights activist Kancha Ilaiah said the report presents the government’s version of the story. “What surprises me is that what the then HRD minister Smriti Irani had said about Vemula’s death is what forms the content of the report,” he told PTI.
The report also claimed that being expelled from the hostel could not have led Vemula to commit suicide as the order had been challenged in the Hyderabad High Court. The report also quoted a number of university officials and staff, many of whom said that expulsion could not have been the reason for his ending his life.
It also mentioned Vemula’s suicide note, claiming that it shows he was unhappy with “worldly affairs” and the “activities going on around him”, and that he was frustrated for reasons “best known to him”. The Justice Roopanwal report added that if Vemula had been angry with the university’s decision to expel him, he would have said that “in specific words” in his suicide note or at least indicated it.