A 74-year-old woman, who is said to have raised the mother of dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and was his foster grandmother, died in Guntur on Monday and the family claims it was because of the "tension" created by the probe into the student's death.
This is the "second blow" for the family, Rohith's younger brother Raja said on the death of Anjani Devi, who had raised Rohith's mother Radhika during her childhood.
"The person who raised us is no more. She was a heart patient and had undergone a bypass surgery. She was questioned for five-six hours a day (after the death of Rohith) by local authorities. And due to this tension, she died yesterday (Monday). Now, we are completely blank on what to do," said Raja, who had his mother by his side.
The family is in the capital for participating in a protest in support of the issues surrounding JNU and the Hyderabad Central University.
Critical of those accusing Rohith as "anti-national", Raja asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify his stand on the issue.
He said Modi had termed Rohith's demise as "mother India losing a son" but "some people" in his government are branding him as "anti-national".
Raja also demanded that a law be drafted to end "caste-based discrimination" at universities across the country.
Rohith Vemulas mother and brother during a protest rally over the Dalit student’s suicide at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist
"What we went through, should not happen to any other Rohith in the country," he added.
Raja, a post graduate in Applied Geology, said the family is hopeful they will get justice. The Dalit scholar's body was found hanging in a hostel room on Hyderabad University campus on January 17.
Addressing protesters, Rohith's mother Radhika Vemula attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking "what action did you take against your minister who had called my son ‘anti-national’?"
Radhika also condemned the "attacks" on students in universities including JNU and said such things "should be stopped".
"I have a question for you Modiji. Your party MP and minister called Rohith an anti-national. I want to know what action have you taken against him?" she asked.
Radhika, whose speech in Telugu was translated by a Hyderabad University student, said she will continue her fight and asked others to do the same till "Rohith Act" against discrimination in college campuses is enacted.
"I am ready to fight. I see Rohith in every student present here and request everyone to fight till the Rohith Act is brought. There should not be another person who meets the same fate as Rohith. We all have Rohith in us," she said.
She also released a Telugu book comprising articles written after Rohith's suicide.
"Are universities in India not for dalits? MLAs, MPs from dalit community were elected to work for dalits but most of them are working for their own parties. All the parties take the name of Ambedkar just for name's sake. Dalit students scholarhsips are not being disbursed on time," she said.