The Civil Liberties Committee’s Fact Finding Team consisting of D. Suresh, Advocate, High Court, Venkanna, Advocate, High Court, P. M. Raju, President, Hyderabad Unit and Sampath Raja Ram, Jt. Secretary, Hyderabad Unit visited the University of Hyderabad on 18.01.2016 and ascertained the facts involved in the tragic and untimely death of Rohith Vemula on 17.01.2016.
The facts are as follows:
That on a false complaint of ABVP Activist N. Susheel Kumar against five dalit PhD Scholars Dontha Prashanth, Rohith Vemula, Sunkanna Velpula, Seshaiah, Vijay Pedapudi, was entertained by the University administration and a five member committee was constituted, which duly enquired into the entire issue has found no one guilty and found the complaint as false. The ABVP Students Union /activist who intend to saffronize the entire university couldn’t digest the findings of the committee, they took the matter to the Unioin Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and MLC Ramachandra Rao.
Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya without veryfying the facts, misused his position and wrote to the Union HRD minister Smriti Zubin Irani –labeling the Ambedkar Students Association activists as extremists and their activities as castiest and antinational.
Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, thus, in his letter insisted upon HRD Minister Smriti Irani to take action on these students association ASA ie., Ambedkar Students’ Association of University of Hyderabad.
Due to this intervention of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and MLC Ramachandrarao and acting upon their pressure, the HRD Minstry has directed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, to take action on the five Dalit PhD scholars. Also, MLC Ramachandra Rao alongwith his party activists personally visited the Vice Chancellor and he too pressurised the administration for taking action against the students by ignoring the five member committees report. Accordingly, the Vice Chancellor duly setting aside the findings of the Five-Member committee had for namesake appointed a fresh one-member committee, who cooked up a fictious report, holding the five dalit students guilty and that enabled the vice chancellor to suspend them. Further, to satisfy their Brahminical-Castist-Reliougously Fenatic ego, they acted inhumanely and issued a circular boycotting these five dalit students social movements ie., barring their entry into shopping complex, library, canteens, public gatherings etc., The above act of issuing circular of the university authorities is not only unconstitutional but also uncivilized and discriminating.
Consequent to the suspension and social boycott orders, the five suspended students including Mr Rohit Vemula were thrown out of their hostel rooms; and in such a compelling situation these students made the foot-board of the university shopping complex as their shelter and remained there for all these days fighting against the injustice meted to them and for revoking the suspension and against all the undemocratic, arbitrary and discriminating acts of the University authorities. Though the students struggle received enormous support from all sections of the University community, the university administration did not bother to pay attention to their issue and redress them in time. The administration was adamant and stuck to their guns and vowed to see the end of these students’ struggle.
On January 17th, 2016, Sunday, the students as usual were at their shelter, and at around 2PM, Mr Rohith Vemula went to one of his friend’s room in the NRS Hostel to take rest. Around 3PM, it was noticed that he killed himself by hanging. Rohith Vemula’s death was not a suicide, but it was purely a institutional murder. His friends tried to contact the Vice Chancellor and other University officers to inform about his death; but none of the authorities acted upon their calls and visited to them but rather avoided. The student’s community which moved by Rohith’s death, gathered in large numbers and started demonstrating against the attitude of the Vice Chancellor and university’s administration. Meanwhile the police, in large numbers, entered the campus and took the entire university campus under their control. Despite of the repeated requests and demands, the Vice Chancellor had shown no courtesy to visit Rohith’s dead body.
On January 18th, Monday, at around 6AM, the police tried to take away Rohith’s dead body which was protested by the students as by the time neither the Vice Chancellor nor any of the UoH official had visited the body. The students community wanted to have some questions answered either by the Vice Chancellor or by any of the UoH official in their acts. But the police instead calling for the Vice Chancellor had revenue officials for the purpose of preliminary enquiry and enquest report had unreasonably resorted to indiscriminate lathi-charge on the students and forcibly took away Rohith Vemula’s body without caring for the legal formalities. Also, they took the family members of Rohith Vemula under their custody. They did not bother to inform the agitating students or the other family members as to where Rohith Vemula’s body and their parents were being taken.
The police resorting to lathi charge had succeded in separating and taking away Rohith Vemula’s body and his parents away from the students and the student premises. Later, at 12.00 PM they secretly got the postmortem done at Osmania General Hospital and from their they rushed Rohith Vemula’s body to the Amberpet Crematoria and forced the family members to complete the last rites. It is heinous that the family members were not allowed to take the dead body of the Rohith Vemula to their native place and were not allowed to call for their relatives and friends to have Rohith Vemula’s last glimpse. The mother even pleaded the police to show humanity and wait for cremation as Rohith Vemula’s friends who were on their way to reach the crematoria. But, the police didn’t heed to her request and forced them to cremate Rohith’s body at the earliest.
The vice chancellor and other officers of UoH administration at their capacity ought to have intervened in the matter and to have seen that the postmortem and cremation is done in their presence and students allowed to attend and paid their last respects were remained unconcerned in the entire episode and allowed the police to violate the very right of Rohith Vemula’s body to be cremated dignifiedly.
The Civil Liberties Committee condemns the heinous acts of vice chancellor Appara Rao Podile, Union Ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Zubin Irani and conclude that they are all responsible for the untimely death of Rohith Vemula as their discriminative approach and continuous harassment on the instigation of ABVP activist N. Susheel Kumar, UoH done Rohith Vemula to death.
We, therefore, demand that:
1. The Union Ministers B. Dattatreya and Smriti Zubin Irani and the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile be booked under section 302, SC/ST Atrocities Act, and they be arrested immediately.
2. A judicial Probe by a sitting High Court Judge be ordered immediately.
3. The suspension of other four dalith PhD scholars be revoked immediately.
4. The practice of Ructification/Suspension of students in universities be repealed immediately.
5. Respecting the autonomy of UoH, all the police forces deployed on its campus be withdrawn immediately.