Monday, May 27, 2024

Telangana DGP orders further probe after closure report into Rohith Vemula death case sparks outrage

Following outrage from family and the Dalit community after the Telangana police’s closure report claimed that University of Hyderabad PhD scholar and Dalit leader Rohith Vemula, who died in January 2016, was not Dalit and dismissed casteism in the case, the state Director General of Police announced further investigations will be conducted.

In a statement on Friday, DGP Ravi Gupta said the closure report in the case was prepared in 2018, and that it was officially submitted in the jurisdictional court on March 21, 2024.

“As some doubts have been expressed by the mother and others of the deceased, Rohit 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 DGP’s statement said.

The death of Rohit Vemula in 2016 sparked a nationwide protest demanding protection for students from marginal groups in India’s academic space. Calling it an “institutional murder”, Bahujan groups demanded action against the university administration.

According to the final finding of the police, Rohith took his life in fear of his real caste being revealed as he did not belong to the Scheduled Caste category.

Police report absolved the then Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya, Member of Legislative Council N Ramachander Rao, Vice Chancellor Appa Rao, ABVP leaders and Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani.

According to the report, Rohith took his life as “he had his own problems and was not happy with worldly affairs.”

The closure report also notes that the Investigating Officer (IO) while questioning Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula asked her if she was willing to undergo a DNA test to determine her caste location, The News Minute reported. Radhika Vemula has always maintained that she is an SC (Mala) by caste.

The development had provoked criticism against Congress, who came into power in Telangana four months ago. Congress has promised to enact the “Rohit Vemula Act” if they are voted to power in Lok Sabha.

Responding to the report, Rohith’s brother Raja Vemula said to Indian Express: “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.”

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