Days after the Guntur district administration in Andhra triggered controversy, by stating that University of Hyderabad (UoH) research scholar Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit, a letter written by Rohith‚Äôs paternal grandfather has begun doing the rounds.
The letter which states that Rohith was a Dalit, is addressed to Guntur district collector Kantilal Dande, and submitted in June last year.
"After Radhika Vemula (Rohith's mother) got divorced from my son, I very rarely used to meet her. Once I came to know that Radhika Vemula is suffering [from] paralysis, I met her. At that time, I was privately informed by Anjali Devi, that Radhika did not belong to Vaddera community, but was from the community of scheduled caste‚Ä¶I strongly affirm that she belongs to the SC community and her children also get the same caste because they were brought up by her, without any support from my family or my son (Mani Kumar). Therefore our caste cannot be attributed to her or her children,‚ÄĚ the letter reads.
Last week, the state government has reportedly decided to 'cancel' Rohith's Scheduled Caste certificate.
After an 'investigation' that lasted over a year, the District-Level Scrutiny Committee (DLSC) alleged that the SC certificate was ‚Äúfraudulently‚ÄĚ obtained by Rohith and his mother Radhika Vemula.
The controversy over Rohith's caste first broke out after a certificate of his brother Raja Vemula stated that he was a ‚ÄėVaddera‚Äô, a caste which is categorised as OBC in AP. It was later revealed that Rohith‚Äôs father Mani Kumar was a Vaddera, and his mother was a Mala. However, Mani Kumar was an alcoholic who deserted the family once he realised that Radhika was a Dalit, the family claimed. Therefore, Rohith, who never knew his father, claimed his mother's caste, and grew up as a Mala.
The state has also served a show-cause notice to Rohith's family.
Confirming that the family received the notice, Raja Vemula earlier told TNM, "They have threatened to cancel the certificate if we can't 'prove' our caste. It is ridiculous. We are very disheartened and the authorities are putting us through mental torture."
"We have been talking to lawyers, and plan to respond soon," he added.
Rohith's mother has also alleged that the entire issue was to 'shame' her family and her background.
The latest report by the Andhra government would also have a direct impact on a case pending with the Cyberabad police against UoH Vice Chacellor Appa Rao Podile.
A police case was registered at the Gachibowli police station against Bandaru Dattatreya and Appa Rao, under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after the death of Rohith.
Now with the report claiming that Rohith was not a Dalit, the entire case against the VC and the Minister could collapse, if the family does not 'prove' Rohith's caste.