Rohith Vemula frustrated with worldly affairs, did not commit suicide over University action: inquiry commission

Justice Ashok Kumar Roopanwal (retired), who inquired into the events at University of Hyderabad that led to suicide of student Rohith Vemula, has furnished the report [pdf] which has been tabled on both the houses of Parliament.

Justice Roopanwal says that in his view, “the suicide did not relate to any activities of the university administration or the above political leaders including the vice chancellor, Prof. Appa Rao Podile. It was wholly a decision of his own. His suicide note is on the record which shows that Rohith Vemula had his own problems and was not happy with worldly affairs. He was feeling frustrated for reasons best known to him.”

The report, which was made public on Tuesday, further states that, “He wrote that there was no urgency for understanding love, pain life and death but he was rushing after them. It indicates he was not happy with the activities going around him. He also wrote that he was all alone from the childhood and was an unappreciated man. This also indicates his frustration.”

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The report says that his suicide note does not indicate his anger towards the University action. The punishment was awarded to Rohith and other students for leading a group of 30 persons to another student, one Susheel Kumar, and hitting and abusing him on the intervening night of 3rd-4th August, 2015. The final report was submitted by the Proctorial Board on 31st August, 2015. The decisions of the Proctorial Board was, “Complete suspension of Mr. Dontha Prashant, Mr. Rohith Vemula, Mr. P. Vijay and Mr. Seshu Chemudugunta from the classes or courses, hostels and other relevant/connected things a student gets from university, with immediate effect for the ongoing/current semester on account of leading a group of 30 persons to Susheel Kumar’s room, abusing and hitting him.” The decision was approved by the Executive Council of the University of Hyderabad.

The findings of the commission is in line with a sane reading of the suicide note Rohith Vemula had left. However, instead of reading the note and realising how identity politics disturbed the mind of student who wanted to be a scientist, the leftists used the same suicide not to further their political agenda.

Tragically, his suicide was politicised by the same leftist students outfits, against whom Vemula had expressed his disillusionment. In his suicide note, he wrote the following lines, which were struck off presumably by him:

“ASA, SFI, anything and everything exist for their own sake. Seldom the interest of a person and this organisation match. To get power, to become famous or to be important in between boundaries and to think we are up to changing the system. Very often we overestimate the acts and find solace in traits.”

The report also said that nothing has been brought to Justice Roopanwal’s notice “which it could be shown that he was ever given a different treatment from that of the general category students by the university authorities during his stay in the university.” Hence the claims that he was harassed or ill treated by university because of his caste also seem baseless.

He further states that in his opinion, the view taken by the Executive Council of the University was most reasonable in the circumstances prevailing at that time.

“The Executive Council mainly focussed that the students should keep concentration on their academic career and not to the other things. The leniency shown by the Executive Council itself shows that the university administration was not functioning under any influence or pressure otherwise there could be no occasion to be lenient or to reduce the punishment recommended by the Proctorial Board,” justice Roopanwal added.

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