A distressed Rohith Vemula's mother has questioned why no one ever asked for Nirbhaya's caste, while her son's caste identity is being repeatedly discussed.
In media statement issued on Saturday afternoon, Radhika V has reiterated that all of her three children were brought up as Dalits in a colony of Scheduled Castes.
Her remarks came in the wake of her former husband’s interviews to the Telugu media, that he did not know how their children were Dalits since he was of the Vaddera caste and that she too belonged to a Vaddera family. The Vaddera caste is not a Scheduled Caste.
In response to his statements, Radhika issued a press release, saying that she had been born into a Mala family, but was left with a Vaddera family by her parents. She said since she was “informally adopted” by the Vaddera family, they got her married into a Vaddera family.
She added that she separated from her husband in 1990, after the birth of their last child and obtained a divorce. After that, she said that she lived in a Scheduled Caste colony where Mala families lived.
“All the tradtions and customs I followed of SC community as I originally belong to SC Mala,” she said in the statement.
Speaking to the media at the university later, she said that the university should have informed her about Rohith’s suspension. “I want to know the reason for my son’s death. I want strict punishment for the culprits. Rohith is not coward to commit suicide, (his death) is a murder. Rohit's first culprit is Susheel Kumar, and next, the VC,” Radhika said at the press conference.
She also said that people were “diverting the issue by asking about (Rohith’s) caste”.
Referring to the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 8 lakh declared by the university, she said: “The money you are giving will not give us our Rohith back.”
On the recent efforts by the university to meet them, she said: “If you (university officials) want to meet us, we will only meet (you) where Rohith died. We will not meet the VC or anyone at our house.”
Taking on the MHRD, she said, “Smriti Irani is also a woman but, she still hasn’t called us, contacted or sympathized with us after Rohith's death.”
Rohith’s brother Raja, who also addressed the media, criticised the Prime Minister. “After five days of my brother's death Modiji spoke. Was he sleeping all these days? As far as I know, he was in India only. Why he was silent all these days when he said Rohith is son of mother India?” Raja said.
Responding to his father’s remarks to the Telugu media about their caste and upbringing, Raja said: He is my father, but we were raised by our mother. We are Mala's (SC) and we were raised in (the wyas of the) Mala caste.”