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QRant: Let’s Stop Questioning Rohith Vemula’s Caste

Why did the Commission’s report ignore Rohith’s letter to the varsity V-C? That’s what we should be asking instead.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

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Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit.

That's what the Justice Roopanwal Commission report has said. And now, everyone wants to debate his caste.

Did his mother brand herself a Dalit to get reservations for her son? And why is the Roopanwal Commission investigating Rohith’s caste in the first place?

Why is the Roopanwal Commission Investigating Rohith’s Caste Anyway?

It’s anybody's guess WHY the Roopanwal Commission is investigating Rohit's caste, because that's not its mandate.

The Commission was created to:

  1. examine the circumstances and facts which led to Rohith's death and bring the perpetrator to justice, if any
  2. to review the functioning of the grievance committee and suggest mechanisms for improvement

Then why do the Commission’s final findings dedicate 4 pages out of 12 to whether Rohith was a Dalit – or not?

More importantly, the Collector of Rohit's home district, Guntur, had issued a caste certificate stating that he belonged to the Scheduled Caste category.

So let's not humiliate Radhika Vemula and her family any more, because centuries of caste oppression has already done that for us.

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Why Did the Commission Ignore Rohith’s Letter to Appa Rao?

The Commission has said Rohith's suicide was because of his personal problems and dismissed his letter written to vice-chancellor Appa Rao on 18 December 2015. In the letter, he talks about caste discrimination and asks for cyanide and a rope for Dalit students. But because his suicide was a WHOLE month after the letter, the commission has said that it MUST mean that his anger against the university did not continue until then.

Why was Bandaru Dattatreya Writing Any Letter?

The report says the university’s proctorial board was not under political influence.

Why?

Because the board's interim report was written five days BEFORE Minister of State Bandaru Dattatreya sent a letter asking the HRD Ministry to take action on the feud between the Ambedkar Students’ Association and ABVP.

But Sirji! Neither the University of Hyderabad falls in Dattatreya's Lok Sabha constituency nor was he Minister of State for education. So why the need to write to HRD ministry in the matter?

And surely, five reminders from the HRD ministry till January 2016 don't mean any political pressure, right?

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Why Has the Commission Ignored Grievance Redressal Committees?

The Commission has observed that the university's equal opportunity cell is not functional. But it doesn't explore why the grievance redressal committees are ineffective. Or how they could be made better.

Which, funnily enough, was actually its mandate. NOT Rohit Vemula's caste.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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