Rohith Vemula Case: From Campus Protests to Assurance from the CM for Justice, Read What Has Followed Since the Reveal of Closure Report

Radhika Vemula met with Telangana Chief Minister who assured justice. Later, the DGP stated that further investigations will be carried out.
Rohith Vemula
Rohith VemulaPhoto- Internet

New Delhi - The release of the closure report on Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's demise has sparked widespread skepticism. Numerous people, including student groups and family members, question the report's exoneration of high-profile figures such as former Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad University Podile Appa Rao, BJP leaders Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, N Ramachandra Rao, and ABVP Leader Susheel Kumar, absolving them of any accountability for what many term as an institutional murder.

After the report was made public, Rohith’s mother, Radhika Vemula, along with students from the University of Hyderabad, convened with Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy the very next day. During the meeting on 4th May, Chief Minister Reddy provided assurances of justice to Rohith's family.

In a statement to the Indian Express, Rohith Vemula's brother conveyed his shock at the closure report and stressed the need for a thorough inquiry into the alleged harassment his brother faced. He affirmed his intention to enlist support from Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to reopen the case.

"The responsibility of the Telangana Police was to investigate if my brother was harassed to the point that he took his life. Instead, they again went for his caste. We are not going to take this; we are going to fight," he emphasized.

Radhika Vemula meeting the CM along with students
Radhika Vemula meeting the CM along with studentsThe Hindu

Director General of Police (DGP) of Telangana later stated, "As some doubts have been expressed by the mother and others of the deceased Rohith Vemula on the investigation conducted, it has been decided to conduct further investigation into the case.”

“A petition will be filed in the Court concerned requesting the Hon’ble Magistrate to permit further investigation into the case. The Investigation Officer in the case was Asst. Commissioner of Police, Madhapur and the final closure report in the case was prepared last year i.e. before November 2023 itself based on the investigation conducted.”

He added that the final closure report was officially filed in the jurisdictional court on 21.03.2024 by the Investigation Officer.

Progressive student organizations of the University of Hyderabad, such as the Ambedkar Students’ Association, Student Federation of India, All India Students Association, National Students' Union of India, along with others, stood in solidarity with the family of Rohith Vemula and organized a protest on the 3rd, the very same day the report came out.

A member of ASA informed The Mooknayak that a demonstration took place at the university gates from 6:30 PM onwards. The students assembled from the quadrangle on campus to the main gate, chanting slogans and demanding justice. Later, during a press conference, the students announced their intention to escalate their protests if justice were not served.

They collectively released a statement against the report, which, according to them, “desperately attempts to safeguard Appa Rao, Smriti Irani, and Bandaru Dattatreya.”

Student protestors on the evening of 3rd May
Student protestors on the evening of 3rd MayDeccan Chronicle

The statement asserted, “the police report attempts to shield former Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya from accountability, despite his continuous pressure on the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University of Hyderabad's Vice Chancellor regarding purportedly 'anti-national' activities of Dalit scholars.”

“On October 20, 2015, Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, Joint Secretary, sent a directive to Prof. Podile Appa Rao, urging personal attention to Dattatreya's concerns. This was reiterated on November 19, 2015, by Ramji Pandey, Under Secretary of the MHRD. Consequently, on November 27, 2015, during the 167th meeting of the Executive Council, Prof. Podile Appa Rao addressed the matter concerning incidents on August 3-4, 2015.”

However, the report contends that the administration was unaffected by these correspondences, claiming they were merely sent to the registry without awareness of their public exposure.

This assertion contradicts the minutes of the 167th Executive Council meeting, revealing the Vice-Chancellor's briefing on the incidents and planned response to the MHRD's communication.

Furthermore, the report praises Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao's purported leniency towards Rohith Vemula and other Dalit scholars, misreporting a reduction in punishment to expulsion from hostels for one semester.

This contradicts the actual decision, as students were barred from hostels until completing their courses, an apparent increase in punishment. Despite inconsistencies pointed out by student organizations, the Executive Council sub-committee, under Appa Rao's leadership, upheld the suspension and social boycott of five Dalit research students, unprecedented in university history.

Additionally, the report neglects conclusions from the MHRD's two-member panel, which found the university administration, led by Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao, mishandled the case and suspended students without due process.

The report dismisses caste's role in Appa Rao's treatment of scholars, overlooking his history, including involvement in the rustication of 10 Dalit scholars and harassment of Dalit faculty in 2001.

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