Amid a raging controversy that has led to a political slugfest between the government and the opposition, police said on Friday that a suicide note purportedly written by Rohith Vemula – a Dalit scholar with the University of Hyderabad – has been sent for forensic analysis.
They are reportedly looking at several leads, including a struck-off portion in the suicide note, to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident. “The letter has been sent to a forensic laboratory for tests, including handwriting comparison. We will get the report in a few days,” a police officer said.
Vemula had committed suicide at a hostel room on Sunday after he and four other students were suspended by university officials for allegedly assaulting a leader of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The issue made headlines across the country, with opposition parties accusing Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya of abetting the suicide.
Police are also trying to shed some light on the reason for Vemula striking off a few lines in the suicide note. A report stated that Vemula had purportedly expressed his discontent with the Ambedkar Students Association, the students’ body he was associated with, in the struck-off portion. “ASA, SFI anything and everything exist for their own sake. Seldom the interest of a person and these organisations match (sic),” he reportedly said in the note.
Police are also trying to locate Vemula’s mobile phone, the call records and messages of which could help immensely in the investigation.
Gachibowli police inspector J Ramesh refused to comment on the forensic tests, stating that it would hamper the ongoing probe.
Meanwhile, the university’s act of revoking the suspension of four Dalit scholars failed to quell the student agitations being taken up on Vemula’s behalf. However, sources said that the mood on the campus has improved considerably in the last few days.
With the Cyberabad police stepping up the probe, it has emerged that Vemula’s father Mani Kumar hails from Vaddera, a backward class community, while his mother Radhika is a Dalit. Earlier, questions had been raised over Vemula’s Dalit identity.
On Thursday, Susheel Kumar – the ABVP student leader who was allegedly assaulted – implied that Vemula’s “activist friends” were responsible for his death. Others at the university couldn’t seem to understand the reason for him taking the extreme step. “The suicide has mystified many on the campus because the high court was supposed to take up the matter in two days. Given the leniency that courts normally show to students, a positive outcome was expected,” said a university official.
Meanwhile, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu alleged that political leaders were pouring into the university campus to play petty politics over Vemula’s suicide. “Their accusations against Union ministers bear no credence. There is no link between Rohith’s suicide and the Union ministers,” he said during a visit to Kanyakumari.
Cyberabad police have named Dattatreya, vice-chancellor Appa Rao, Telangana BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao and two students in the FIR. Even as students continue to agitate for Appa Rao’s removal, he has reportedly sought a meeting with them on Friday to arrive at a resolution on the matter.
(WIth Agency Inputs)