It has been almost a year since Rohith Vemula's suicide at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) triggered off a political storm.
However, the police are yet to look into the case on Union minister Bandaru Dattateya and varsity vice-chancellor P Appa Rao, under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
When asked about the delay, Cyberabad police commissioner Sandeep Shandilya on Wednesday told a gathering of the media, that they yet t receive a reply from the revenue officials of Andhra Pradesh, specifically Guntur, on the caste status of Rohith Vemula, before they could make further progress.
"AP revenue officials are supposed to certify the caste of Rohith Vemula. I wrote to the revenue officials a number of times seeking the caste certificate of Rohith. There is no response from them," Sandeep Shandilya was quoted as saying.
In response to this, students of UoH in a statement said that, "the statements of the Cyberabad police is a clear attempt to mislead the media and the public at large."
They went on to add:
Couldn’t the Guntur collector’s office respond to even one of the seven letters written by the Cyberabad Police? It is not common for a government office to ignore such important communication from a counterpart agency. What hidden pressures have tied the hands of the Guntur Collector? Also, couldn’t the Cyberabad police depute an officer to travel to Guntur and obtain the report directly from the Guntur Collector?
All this points to only one thing: the entire process of law, in what is an open-and-shut case, has been frustrated and vitiated by the political masters of the Guntur Collector and the Cyberabad Police Commissioner.
It is clear that the entire effort by these subservient government officials is to protect the accused who are powerful individuals. Why this disproportionate focus on Rohith Vemula’s caste? After all, the atrocity, as alleged by us, was not committed on Rohith Vemula alone. There were four other Scheduled Caste students punished along with Rohith – Sunkanna Velpula, Vijay P, Sesaiah Chemudugunta and Dontha Prashanth.
All these four students too faced the social boycott that Rohith faced. All of them were wrongfully punished and harassed like Rohith Vemula. They too spent 14 days and nights in the Vellivada at the peak of the winter. They too underwent humiliation, agony and continuous stress due to the humiliating treatment meted out by the Vice Chancellor and other university committees and the Political machinery that pursued the illegal suspension and victimization in the name of caste.
Even if, for a moment, we consider that there are some doubts about Rohith Vemula’s identity, we fail to understand what is holding the Cyberabad police back from investigating the atrocity committed on the other four students?
After submitting a report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) himself, stating that Vemula was a Dalit, Guntur district collector, Kantilal Dande, triggered off a controversy in June after he said that Rohith's caste status was shrouded in 'ambiguity'.
The students went on to add, "Sacrificing the cause of justice for Rohith Vemula was a small price to pay for corrupt politicians for gains that cannot even be imagined by the common man. The machinations of these corrupt politicians will cost Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities very dearly in the coming days. KCR and Naidu have shown that the only protection that these communities have – the SC/T (PoA) Act, 1989 – can be easily violated given the right amount of pressure."
Rohith had committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of a hostel room in the university on January 17, 2016.