Video of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula asserting his Dalit status surfaces
After he committed suicide in January this year, Vemula's family members, friends besides political parties alleged that he was a victim of caste discrimination. (YouTube screen scrab) Photograph: (Others)
Days after an Indian judicial panel concluded that research scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide in January, was not from a "low caste" Dalit community, a video has appeared showing Vemula saying he was in fact a Dalit.
The video appears to be shot inside a tent near the area where the student and his other colleagues had stayed after they were suspended from Hyderabad Central University in southern Hyderabad city.
He is seen describing himself as a Dalit from Guntur district of the south Indian state Andhra Pradesh and says that his mother raised him. Vemula also talked about his suspension, his studies and student activism in the video clip.
The research scholar's family and friends had alleged after the suicide that Vemula had been discriminated against because of his caste.
A demand for a 'Rohith Act' to end the discrimination against students belonging to the marginalised communities in educational institutions was demanded.
The Justice Roopanwal Commission set up by India's human resource and development (HRD) ministry attributed Vemula's suicide to personal reasons. They stated that the material was not enough to establish his caste.
The commission raised questions about substantial proof that Vemula's mother, V Radhika, belonged to the "Mala" community.
India's then HRD minister Smriti Irani and labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya were given clean chits in the report and Hyderabad Central University was acquitted of any blame for his death.
Vemula's suicide had triggered a huge political furor with Smriti Irani coming under attack along with Bandaru Dattatreya for having written a letter related to the matter. The Commission in its report is understood to have emphasised upon proper grievance redressal mechanisms and equal opportunity cells so that unfortunate incidents like Vemula's suicide can be prevented.
(WION with inputs from PTI)