Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 21:23 IST

Once Rallying Point Against Dalit Injustice, Vemula Closure Report Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

The Rohith Vemula case closure report by the Telangana Police makes a shocking revelation that Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit and used a false caste certificate.

Reported by: Shweta Parande
Justice for Vemula movement nullified? | Image:Republic
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Rohith Vemula Closure Report: A new controversy has erupted in political circles after the Rohith Vemula case closure report by the Telangana Police. The report makes a shocking revelation that Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit and used a false caste certificate. This declaration nullifies the entire ‘Justice for Vemula’ movement. The Telangana police closure report states that the PhD scholar from Hyderabad was afraid that his “real caste identity” would be known and died by suicide. 

Rohith Vemula died by suicide on January 17, 2016, on the premises of the University of Hyderabad. He reportedly said in his suicide note that he felt “his birth was his fatal accident”.

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As the closure report was released 10 days ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 in Telangana on May 13, the Opposition has expressed its displeasure and demanded the re-opening of the case.

Congress supported the Justice for Vemula movement

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and the party were at the forefront of supporting the ‘Justice for Vemula’ movement in 2016, painting the death of the student as a Dalit vs Upper Classes issue. 

Rahul Gandhi had posted on July 21, 2017 on X (then Twitter), stating, “They say Rohit Vemula committed suicide.I call it murder.He was murdered by the indignities he suffered.He was killed because he was a Dalit.”

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Rahul Gandhi had then promised that if the party were to come to power, a ‘Rohith Vemula Act’ on atrocities against the Dalit community would be implemented in order to “safeguard the right to education and dignity” for the Scheduled Castes (SC) / Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and minorities in India.

On Rohith Vemula’s death anniversary in 2022, Rahul Gandhi posted on X, “Rohith Vemula was murdered by discrimination & indignities against his Dalit identity. Even as years go by, he remains a symbol of resistance and his brave mother a symbol of hope. For fighting till the very end, Rohith is my hero, my brother who was wronged.”

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It has been reported that during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in 2024, Rahul Gandhi invited Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula to join the Congress. The Congress is not taking the closure report lying down and has demanded a re-opening and re-investigation.

Police report nullifies Dalit movement for Rohith Vemula

The revelations in the closure report by the Telangana Police now puts back in focus a Dalit movement post the death of Rohith Vemula. There was rage and there were protests across the country for months, as people believed it to be a case of atrocities on the Dalit community. If it is accepted by the highest authority that Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit and in fact, belonged to a yet unknown upper caste, then the entire movement in the deceased student’s support stands null and void.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Rachana Reddy said that the victim mentality of the Dalit community is not right, as one is disrespecting those who actually face discrimination.

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“The fact that the abetment has nothing to do with BJP…This victim mentality is not right. We have specific laws against discrimination. This is all to protect them. But when you instil false information, you are disrespecting those who actually face discrimination. There was proof that there was no discrimination on campus (where Rohith Vemula died). (Congress MP) Rahul Gandhi's statement has backfired,” said Reddy.

It remains to be seen what turn the ‘Justice for Vemula’ movement takes now, as it has been reignited after the police closure report.

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 21:23 IST