The Justice (retd.) AK Roopanwal Commission, which was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, to probe into the circumstances leading to the death of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad Central University, stated that the research scholar did not belong to the Scheduled Caste community and was not a Dalit, reported The Indian Express.
Vemula had committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of a hostel room in the university. The incident had triggered a political storm with Opposition parties launching a massive attack on the Centre over the issue. They also accused the university authorities of mishandling the situation, which led to Vemula's suicide.
The one-member commission has reportedly submitted its findings to UGC officials, though there has been no official confirmation. The Indian Express report added that Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Thawar Chand Gehlot had earlier said that Vemula belonged to the Vaddera community, which falls under Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
Though Roopanwal and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar refused to comment, Vemula's brother Raja, was quoted by The Indian Express, as saying that though their father belonged to a backward class, they have lived like Dalits and "were raised in a Dalit community".
According to a 5 August report by Hindustan Times, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) had declared Vemula a Dalit and had directed the state government to extend all the benefits that his family is entitled to under the BPL category.
PL Punia, chairperson of the commission, was quoted as saying that investigations confirmed that Vemula was a Dalit and the district collector has submitted a report on it.
Following the suicide, a police case was registered against Appa Rao, university official Alok Pandey, Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, ABVP leader Susheel Kumar and BJP legislator Ramchander Rao under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. However, the Roopanwal Commission has not put the blame on the senior varsity officials.
The NCSC report had observed that the university authorities did nothing to assuage his feelings. Vemula in his suicide note, had described his birth a fatal accident.
"NCSC feels that university authorities/MHRD should examine the whole set of circumstances leading up to this tragic event and take steps to ensure that the SC students are not discriminated against and are fully assimilated into the university life," it said.
The NCSC commission based on the report from Guntur district collector concluded that Rohith was a Dalit, setting aside all doubts being raised in the wake of reports that his father was not a Dalit.
"Rohith's mother was SC and the children were brought up in an environment of deprivation and discrimination in the SC locality. The district collector is of firm view that Rohith belonged to the SC and there is absolutely no doubt about this," the report said.
The Commission advised the Guntur district administration to pay Rs 4,12,500 (50 percent of 8,25,000) to his mother as relief amount as per the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 2016 and the remaining amount after police files a chargesheet.
With inputs from agencies