‘My Name Is Rohith Vemula, I Am A Dalit’

‘My Name Is Rohith Vemula, I Am A Dalit’

Hyderabad: Rohith Vemula’s friends have released a video on Monday which claims that the PHd scholar had said “My name is Rohith Vemula. I am a Dalit.

Rohith Vemula’s friends have released the video as a rebuttal to the report of a commission set up by the centre’s Education Ministry, which raised questions about his Dalit status and attributed his suicide to “personal reasons” and not discrimination.

Rohith Vemula, 26, killed himself days after he and four other students were suspended by the university and barred from its hostel. A month before his death, he had written to the university’s vice chancellor Appa Rao about caste discrimination and said Dalit students should be given “a rope to hang themselves”.

The Justice Roopanwal Commission report, submitted earlier this month, said there is no proof that Mr Vemula’s mother V Radhika belongs to the “Mala” Dalit community, with which the scholar identified.

“I’m a son of a daily wage labourer and my mother has raised us,” said Rohith, who explained in video that his research fellowship got him admission to the university’s social science school as a “general category student.” Prashant said Rohith may have been availed of social welfare grants meant for dalit students.

Rohith also said that his “spat with the ABVP is not a new one.” It was after a fight with students of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP, a student body affiliated to the BJP, that the university took action against Rohith and the others.

“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,” Rohith said in the video.

Through months of protests over Rohith’s death, his fellow students accused union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya of the BJP of pressuring the university to punish the five scholars.  The Roopanwal commission has absolved the ministers and the university of blame saying there was no political pressure.

Rohith’s family and opposition parties have alleged that the commission’s report is an attempt to protect people who drove him to kill himself. “It’s a report to protect the culprits. They have wrongly gone after his caste to prove us wrong,” his mother said.