Rubbishing the Roopanwal Commission report which concluded that Rohith Vemula did not commit suicide because of pressure exerted by officials at the University of Hyderabad, Dontha Prashanth, Rohith’s friend, said that the report was just to satisfy the conscience of the caste Hindus.
Prashanth, also pursuing PhD from the same university, was expelled along with Rohith and three others for alleged violence against ABVP president Nandanam Susheel Kumar.
Rohith had written a letter threatening he would commit suicide on December 18th. The commission however says that this cannot be the reason for the suicide, as there was a case ongoing challenging the university’s decision.
“If he would have been angry with the decision of the university, certainly either he would have written in specific words or would have indicated in this regard. But he did not do the same. It shows that the circumstances prevailing in the university at that time were not the reasons for committing the suicide,” the commission said.
“How can Ashok Roopanwal, dismiss the first letter written by Rohith, dated 18 December, in which he asked Vice Chancellor Appa Rao for sodium azide or a rope? Rohith had clearly expressed his anxiety against the unjust expulsion,” Prasanth told TNM.
Prasanth says Rohith had received no reply to his first letter.
“From December 18, the day Rohith wrote the letter addressing the VC, he did not receive any response. For almost three weeks we were sitting and sleeping in Velivada (a space in the campus, which Rohith and the other expelled student’s used as a protest venue). Of course, Rohith faced humiliation due to this,” Prasanth says.
Prashanth, continued, “Rohith, of course spoke of worldly affairs in his last letter. But does his act of not naming Smriti Irani, the then MHRD minister, other BJP leaders or the VC in the letter absolve them of their role?”
Roopanwal had declared that the punishment given to the students was lenient. “It was not lenient,” he exclaimed.
“In the first enquiry, we were given just a term’s expulsion, denying us the right to gather or talk at public spaces. But in the second enquiry, we were awarded with a life expulsion. This triggered Rohith Vemula to think about his loneliness and the exclusion, which he faced as a child too and wrote about the same in his final letter.”
“Only a Brahminical mind can call this social expulsion lenient. Sadly, the justice is acting like a BJP henchman”, Prashanth rued.
Prashanth said that the report was atrocious, completely devoid of facts. Crying foul over the report, he said that it is not the role of Roopanwal to determine if Rohith was Dalit or not. That is the responsibility of the District Magistrate to probe and establish it.
He alleged that the BJP is extensively using its machinery to write off the ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ struggle and absolve them of their crimes.
The report of Justice Ashok Kumar Roopanwal released on Tuesday concluded that Rohith Vemula committed suicide wholly on his decision and was not related to Vice Chancellor Podile Appa Rao. Roopanwal stated that the suicide note on record shows that Rohith had his own problems and was not happy with the worldly affairs.
If he was angry with the decision of the university certainly he would have written in specific words or would have indicated in the regard, Roopanwal said in the report.
Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar, committed suicide on January 17, almost after a month, after the university expelled them from hostels and public spaces. They were only allowed in their respective departments, library and academic meetings, after the university found them guilty of violence against ABVP president.