Hyderabad: A letter written by Rohith Vemula’s paternal grandfather, which asserted that the University of Hyderabad (UoH) research scholar is a Dalit, has resurfaced days after the Guntur district administration in Andhra Pradesh claimed the opposite.
According to a media report, the letter which was submitted in June 2016 was addressed to Guntur’s district collector Kantilal Dande.
In the letter, Rohith’s grandfather said that he met Radhika Vemula (Rohith’s mother) rarely after she got divorced from his son. When he had gone to meet her when she was suffering from paralysis, he was informed by Anjani Devi (Rohith’s adoptive grandmother) that Radhika was from a community that belonged to a scheduled caste.
“I strongly affirm that she belongs to the SC community and her children also get the same caste because they were brought up by her, without any support from my family or my son (Mani Kumar). Therefore our caste cannot be attributed to her or her children,” he was quoted as writing.
Earlier, the government had reportedly decided to cancel Rohith’s Scheduled Caste certificate.
The decision was made after District-Level Scrutiny Committee (DLSC), after a year-long investigation, alleged that the SC certificate was ‘fradulently’ procured by Radhika.
The controversy had started when one of the certificates of Raja Vemula (Rohith’s brother) stated that he belonged to the OBC ‘Vaddera’ community.
However, it later became known that his mother belonged to the ‘Mala’ community while his father belonged to the Vaddera community. Also being an alcoholic, Mani Kumar had deserted the family after he realised that Radhika was a Dalit.
As Rohith grew up without knowing his father, he claimed his mother’s caste.
Rohith’s family had also expressed regret after they received the show-cause notice from the government asking them to prove their caste.
The issue could also potentially affect the case against UoH vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile, who was charged under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after the death of Rohith.