New Delhi: Protests broke out at the campus of Hyderabad Central University on Friday against the findings of a government-appointed commission report according to which the mother of deceased HCU student Rohith Vemula had "branded" herself a Dalit to avail the benefits of reservation.
According to the students the one-man commission led by former Allahabad High Court judge A K Roopanwal was a "tool(sic) to save BJP Union Ministers Bandaru Dattatreya, Smriti Irani and UoH Vice-Chancellor Podile Apparao from the FIR registered against them under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act)". The students also accused the commission of "justifying" the suspension of five Dalit scholars by the university administration last year.
"The commission justified the intereference of BJP leaders in to the affairs of the University. How can the commission justify the act of BJP MLC Ramachander Rao, who came to the University with about 100 activists of Bharatiya Jana Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and thrreeatend the then VC Prof R P Sharma that 'if action is not initited against the students of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), outsiders will teach them a lesson', recorded by the Office of Vice-Chancellor in its minutes on 04.08.2015," a statement released on Friday by four Dalit scholars suspended along with Vemula by the university, said.
"How can the commission justify the letter of Sri Bandaru Dattatreya who being a union minister took sides of Susheel Kumar, President, ABVP-HCU and branded Ambedkar Students Association and entire university as casteist, extremist and anti-national without any first hand information or evidences," the statement added.
When contacted, Justice A K Roopanwal refused to comment over the issue.
One of the five suspended students, Vemula hanged himself in a friend's hostel room on January 17, 2016 after the administration didn't yield to his pleas. After widespread protests over the allegations of discrimination for being a Dalit, the Human Resource Development ministry constituted a judicial commission to "probe circumstances leading to suicide" of 26-year-old Vemula. The commission was meant to submit its report within three months, however, the report was finally submitted in August.
Questioning the mandate and jurisdiction of the commission to investigate about the caste of Rohith Vemula, the students hit out at the commission for personally attacking Vemula's mother, Radhika Vemula.
"Legally speaking, the commission does not have any jurisdiction and mandate over inquiry/investigation of the caste of Rohith Vemula and the appropriate body to investigate and certify the caste is the District Magistrate. As per reports, the District Magistrate had certified Rohith Vemula as SC-Mala, National Commisison for Scheduled Castes has affirmed this position of District Magistrate and ordered for proceeding under Atrocity Act to investigate the matter," the students, who marched from Velivada to the main gate of the campus, said.
Besides saving BJP Ministers, ABVP leaders and maligning Radhika Vemula, the conclusions of the inquiry, students said, are also aimed at "derailing" the justice for four Dalit research scholars who were socially boycotted along with Rohith Vemula.
Feature image source: PTI