Vemula had died by suicide on January 17, 2016.

Hyderabad:

Eight years after massive protests and a political controversy erupted over his death by suicide, forcing the Modi government to clarify that it was not anti-Dalit, the Telangana Police has filed a closure report in the Rohith Vemula case. In the report, the police have not only said that the University of Hyderabad student was not from the Scheduled Castes and his certificate was forged but also that he died by suicide because he feared being exposed.

Citing doubts raised by Vemula’s family, the Telangana Director General of Police later released a statement saying they have decided to investigate the case further. 

The accused in the case included then University of Hyderabad vice-chancellor Appa Rao and BJP leaders like then Secunderabad MP and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and MLC N Ramchender Rao in the case. All of them have been absolved of all charges.

The closure report was filed on March 21 but has come to light on Friday, just 10 days before all 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana will vote in the fourth phase on May 13. Telangana has a Congress government now and was ruled by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi before that.

The Congress had supported the protests seeking justice after the research scholar’s death and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi had visited the campus, as had Aam Aadmi Party Convenor Arvind Kejriwal and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. Mr Gandhi had also raised the issue in Parliament. 

Rohith Vemula’s family, which had alleged that he died by suicide because he was harassed on the basis of his caste identity by members of the BJP-linked Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and others, has accused the police of investigating the student’s caste status instead of the treatment allegedly meted out to him. 

“Instead of investigating how my brother was targeted, harassed, and finally killed, police investigated his caste status,” said Vemula’s brother. Protests have also broken out at the university.

In a statement released later on Friday, Telangana Director General of Police Ravi Gupta said the final report in the case was prepared in the year 2018 based on the probe conducted by the investigation officer – the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Madhapur – and the final report was filed by him on March 21.

“As some doubts have been expressed by the mother and others of the deceased Rohit Vemula on the investigation conducted, it has been decided to conduct further investigation into the case. A petition will be filed in the Court concerned requesting the Honourable Magistrate to permit further investigation into the case,” the statement said.

What The Report Says

Vemula had died by suicide on January 17, 2016 after he was rusticated by the University of Hyderabad and, in its complaint, the Ambedkar Students’ Association – of which Vemula was a member – had alleged that Mr Dattatreya had influenced then Union Education Minister Smriti Irani to take action against Dalit students at the University. 

In the closure report, the Telangana Police said, “IrThe deceased himself was aware that he did not belong to Scheduled Caste and that his mother had got him an SC certificate. This could be one of the constant fears as the exposure of the same would result in a loss of his academic degrees that he earned over the years and be compelled to face prosecution,” the report said.

“The deceased had multiple issues worrying him which could have driven him to commit suicide. Despite best efforts, no evidence could be found to establish that the actions of the accused have driven the deceased to commit suicide,” it said.

NDTV spoke to Mr Rao, who said that he and the BJP had been saying from the beginning that the charges were politically motivated. The closure report reaffirms this, he said. 

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