Finance Minister Sitharaman Addresses Rohit Vemula Case Controversy in Pune

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Pune, 4th May 2024: Following the tragic suicide of Rohit Vemula, a student at the University of Hyderabad in Telangana, in 2016, protests erupted nationwide. Several Ambedkarist organizations mobilized to seek justice for him. Recent developments shed new light on this case, as the Telangana Police has officially closed the file on Rohit Vemula’s death, acquitting all the accused. The police’s investigation concluded that Rohit Vemula does not belong to the Dalit community. In response, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the issue during a program in Pune.

Expressing her views, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated, “The Rohit Vemula suicide case was a deeply regrettable incident. It could have been handled with sensitivity at the university level, but it escalated into a nationwide outcry, creating a narrative against the government. This pressure was fueled by vested interests, including those who exploit sentiments for personal gain, even bringing the issue to Parliament.”

Critiquing the handling of the situation, Sitharaman remarked, “I had emphasized the need to approach this matter cautiously. It could have been resolved internally within the university, but instead, opponents took to the streets nationwide. The blame was unjustly directed at the education minister and the government due to the university being aided by the government. Intolerance, political meddling, and animosity do not stem from the government but from these vested interest groups, which seize every opportunity to sow discord in our institutions of higher learning.”

What is the Rohit Vemula case?

Rohit Vemula, a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad, took his own life in 2016, sending shockwaves across the nation and within the university community. A one-member committee, chaired by former Allahabad High Court judge Ashok Kumar Rupanwal, was appointed to investigate the case. This committee was tasked with documenting the events leading up to Rohit Vemula’s death and assigning accountability.

MP Bandaru Dattatreya, Legislative Council MLA N Ramachandra Rao, and University of Hyderabad Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao, along with officials from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, have all been cleared of any wrongdoing.

A report regarding the closure of the case was submitted to the High Court for the State of Telangana. In this report, the police stated that Rohit Vemula did not belong to the Dalit community. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had previously asserted that Rohit Vemula’s death was due to his Dalit identity, leading to strong protests by leftist organizations in Telangana and New Delhi demanding justice for him.

Furthermore, the police report indicated that Rohit Vemula had penned a letter to Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao, who had purportedly acted by university regulations by taking certain measures.