Judicial Commission to probe into Rohith Vemula suicide

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Rohith Vemula

Rohith Vemula (file photo)

NEW DELHI- The Center today decided to set up a judicial commission to go into the dalit student’s suicide in Hyderabad University, which announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.8 lakh to his family but protests continued. Seven students continued their indefinite hunger strike demanding removal of Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani reached out to the family of the deceased student by speaking to Rohith’s mother over phone and assured her that justice will be done on the basis of a judicial inquiry. The University announced an ex-gratia of Rs eight lakh to the grieving family of Rohith.

Based on the report by a fact-finding team, the HRD Ministry decided to set up a judicial commission to look into the sequence of events leading to the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a dalit scholar at the Hyderabad Central University.

The commission will submit its report within three months, said a ministry statement. The two-member fact-finding committee comprising HRD officials, which visited the university, said in its report that there was a “lack of sensitivity” shown in some areas by the varsity authorities in dealing with events that led to the suicide. The committee gave its report today.

The HRD ministry said in order to prevent such incidents in future, all VCs and senior administrators would be sensitized to reach out to students and there will be “zero tolerance” for any acts of discrimination on campus. Rohith’s body was found hanging in the varsity’s hostel room on Sunday, which sparked massive protests across the country.

A group of seven students, who have been on indefinite hunger stike for the past three days, said the protests would continue till their demands–removal of Vice-Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao, Rs 50 lakh compensation to Rohit’s family, employment to one of his family members, “unconditional” revocation of suspension of the four research scholars and withdrawal of “false cases” against them filed in connection the alleged assault on ABVP leader Susheel Kumar–are met.

The suicide has snowballed into a major political storm with parties demanding the ouster of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and HRD Minister Smriti Irani. The Hyderabad University had suspended Rohith and four other students after they allegedly assaulted an ABVP leader. The suspension came after Dattatreya shot off a letter to the HRD ministry in August last year, asking it to look into the matter. Students have alleged that his suspension led to Rohith’s depression and his eventual suicide.

Sources said the two-member fact-finding team has stressed the need for inclusion of socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged students and sought expeditious action on the grievances from these students. There are areas where more “sensitivity” could have been displayed by Hyderabad University authorities in dealing with the events which led to the suicide, according to the report by the team.

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