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Dalit scholar suicide: HRD ministry sets up judicial panel

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Based on the report by a fact-finding team, the HRD Ministry on Friday decided to set up a Judicial Commission to look into the sequence of events leading to the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar at the Hyderabad Central University.

The Judicial Commission will submit its report within three months, a Human Resource Development Ministry statement said.

It said in order to prevent such incidents future, all VCs and senior administrators would be sensitised to reach out to students and there will be “zero tolerance” for any acts of discrimination on campus.

“The fact finding committee constituted by HRD Ministry in the wake of the chain of unfortunate events at the Central University Hyderabad submitted its report to the Ministry on January 22, 2016.

“Based on its observations and findings, the Ministry has decided to constitute a Judicial Commission to review the entire sequence of events and the circumstances and to establish the facts and correctives in the context of the University,” the statement said.

Rohith’s body was found hanging in the varsity’s hostel room on Sunday, which sparked massive protests across the country.

While Rohith in his letter expressed disillusionment with life, the suicide has snowballed into a major political storm with parties demanding the ouster of Union Ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani.

The University had suspended Rohith and four other students after they allegedly assaulted an ABVP leader.

The suspension came after Mr. Dattatreya shot off a letter to the HRD ministry in August last year, asking it to look into the matter. Students have alleged that his suspension led to Rohith’s depression and his eventual suicide.

Meanwhile, HRD Minister Smriti Irani also spoke to Rohith’s mother on Friday and expressed her condolences.

In order to address the issues faced by the students from disadvantaged social economic and education background in higher educational institutions “comprehensively” and to prevent such unfortunate incidents in future, the Ministry has also chalked out a series of measures.

The Ministry has decided to set up a special mechanism for receiving and taking expeditious action on the grievances from these students.

At the same time, all VCs and senior administrators would be sensitised to reach out to such students and there will be “zero tolerance” for any acts of discrimination on campus. “A special charter will be issued to all the higher educational institutions in this regard,” the statement said.

Keywords: Dalit scholar suicide, Judicial Commission, Rohith Vemula suicide, Hyderabad Central University, Bandaru Dattatreya, Smriti Irani

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