In a new twist to the suicide case of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s at University of Hyderabad campus, the Telangana state police has said that Rohith was not a dalit and that he belonged to Vaddera caste which falls under the BC category.
The same was informed to the Hyderabad High court on January 31, two weeks after the death of the research scholar. The revelation from the Police comes in the form of statements recorded from village Tahsildar, family members etc indicating that Rohith Vemula belonged to Vaddera caste which falls under the BC category and not SC.
The investigation officer inquiring into the case against the accused including union minister Bandaru Dattatreya and others on charges of abetment of suicide and provisions under SC-ST (prevention of Attrocities) Act, M Ramana Kumar, the assistant commissioner of Police Madhapur, Cyberabad, has stated that the recorded statements of Rohith’s father Vemula Naga Mani Kumar and paternal grandparents Vemula Raghavamma and Venkateshwarlu from Garazala notes that the deceased belonged to Vaddera caste. The Sarpanch of the village Mahankali Seethamma also corroborated the same, states the report, a copy of which is with Express.
The certified copies of caste provided by the Tahsildar GVS Phaneendra Babu, Gurazala mandal, dated January 19, two days after Rohith’s suicide, alse read that Vemula Rohith Chakravarthy belonged to Vaddera community. According to the investigation officer, the caste records of the deceased was found to be not recorded in school records. In his intermediate and college records, it was entered as Mala, which is an Scheduled Caste category.
The IO also informs the court the statement of Banala Dhanalakshmi, who is married to Rohith’s mother’s brother Banala Giridhar Kumar, where she stated that they belonged to Vaddera caste. The Tahsildar too, according to the IO, certified that Vemula Radhika and her two brothers are Vaddera.
However, students of University of Hyderabad, soon after the questions pertaining to Rohith’s caste erupted, had produced a digitally certified document procured from Government of Andhra Pradesh’s Mee Seva centre, dated June 16, 2015, that Vemula Rohith Chakrvarthi belongs to Mala (SC) community.
On January 23, Rohith’s mother Radhika had issued a statement that she was informally adopted by a Vaddera(BC) family while her parents belonged to Mala(SC) community after she was abandoned at the age of five. “I got married to my divorced husband in 1985 and after giving birth to my last child, I separated from him due to personal reasons. I kept all 3 children with me and lived in SC Mala locality. We followed all the traditions and customs of SC community,” she had issued a clarification.
Revenue officials in Guntur say they never verified Rohith’s caste: When Express contacted the Guntur mandal revenue officials, who had issued an SC caste certificate to Rohith, now say they do not have any documents based on which they were supposed to have issued the caste certificate, certifying that Rohith belongs to Scheduled Caste.
It was in the year 2004, Rohith had first applied for the caste certificate and was issued the same. Since then, the same was being renewed every year. In June 2015, Rohit got a permanent caste certificate after applying through Mee Seva and the officials sanctioned SC certificate based on the old certificate.
According to them, no documents or declarations were submitted by Rohith’s family members when they applied for the caste certificate for the first time in 2004. Based on this certificate issued, officials kept on renewing the caste certificate for him every year. “There was never a thought of verifying as there was no such need,” said officials.
Meanwhile, revenue officials of Gurazala mandal, the native place of Rohith, clarified that they do not have any caste related records of Rohith Vemula as his family migrated away to Guntur city several years ago. However, the officials added Rohith Vemula’s younger brother had applied for a belated birth certificate in 2014 and in the declaration form the parents mentioned ‘Vaddera’ as the caste