A certificate from the revenue department of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government states that Rohith Vemula was a Dalit, scotching claims that the student whose suicide has sparked a political controversy was from the backward community.
A copy of the caste certificate obtained by the Hindustan Times, states that the student of University of Hyderabad belonged to the Mala community, categorised as a schedule caste.
The certificate gave his name as Vemula Rohit Chakravarthi.
The certificate bears the digital signature of K Sivannarayana Murti, the tahsildar of Guntur mandal.
The 26-year-old research scholar had committed suicide on Sunday after he was suspended along with four other students, allegedly after Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to the Union ministry of human resource development describing the campus as a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.”
The certificate gives Rohith’s date of birth as January 30, 1989.
The Mala community is recognised as a scheduled caste as per the Constitution order of 1950 and the SCs, STs list (modification) order 1956 and the STs amendment Act 1976.
Doubts about his Dalit status had been raised after investigators had pointed out that his estranged father belonged to the Vaddera community which is acknowledged as a backward community (BC) and not as SC.
A clip featuring Rohith’s grandmother also surfaced in social media on Wednesday, claiming that her son (Rohith’s father) was not a Scheduled Caste. Rohit’s mother, however, is from a scheduled caste community.
Congress leader K Raju, a former IAS from Andhra Pradesh told HT, “The Supreme Court had also passed an order earlier that if a child is brought up in a Dalit environment by his or her Dalit parent, he or she will be treated as a scheduled caste.”