The Cyberabad police have sought the help of Collector of Guntur district to establish the caste status of research scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide triggered country-wide protest. In an affidavit filed in the High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the Gachibowli police investigating the research scholar's suicide stated that the crucial point of the victim's caste status was still under investigation.
While Rohit's mother Radhika and other family members repeatedly asserted that they belonged to Mala (Scheduled Caste), the affidavit by the police suggested that Rohit's caste status was yet to be ascertained. The affidavit was filed by the police in response to the petition filed by the University of Hyderabad's Vice-Chancellor V. Appa Rao seeking quashing of the FIR in the case under Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act.
The case was registered following a complaint lodged by a student of UoH after Rohith committed suicide. Police said they examined 25 witnesses to verify the research scholar's caste status. According to the affidavit -which was accessed by The Hindu - the Tahsildar of Gurajala in Guntur district, where Rohit's father V. Naga Mani Kumar, stated that the latter belonged to Vaddera community coming under Other Backward Classes (OBC).
The affidavit also stated that the school record of the research scholar's mother Radhika also mentioned her caste as Vaddera. Interestingly, the records of the Andhra Pradesh Residential Junior College at Nagarjunasagar where Rohith completed his Intermediate, mentioned his caste as Mala (SC).
Further, the affidavit stated that the Tahsildar of Guntur (Urban), where Rohit's mother and her parents live, informed the investigators that the research scholar's mother belonged to Vaddera community. “But Rohit's family members released a photocopy of the SC caste certificate issued by the Guntur district administration in his name.
Hence, the Guntur Collector has been asked to clarify Vemula caste status,” a police officer associated with the case investigation said. The affidavit also referred to media reports that stated that Rohit's maternal grandmother Challa Anjani Devi had claimed that she was not Ms. Radhika's biological mother but had adopted her. This matter was yet to be verified, the police stated in the affidavit.