NCSC for separate law to tackle caste discrimination

NCSCHyderabad, Aug 4 (IANS) The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has found that discrimination on campus drove Dalit student Rohith Vemula to suicide and wants a separate law to deal with discrimination and atrocities in educational institutions.

The Commission, which probed the suicide of the PhD scholar of the University of Hyderabad, concluded that Rohith was a Dalit and was treated as one on the campus.

The SC panel observed that discriminatory treatment like suspension from the university and hostel and stoppage of fellowship anguished Rohith and finally drove him to commit suicide.

Rohith (26), one of the five Dalit students expelled from hostel, committed suicide by hanging on the campus on January 17.

The incident triggered massive protests not just in Hyderabad University but across the country, with Dalit student groups calling for enactment of a special legislation to tackle caste discrimination in educational institutions.

The report signed by NCSC chairman P.L. Punia observed that the letters written by Rohith to university authorities reflected his anguish as he suggested them to give poison or rope to Dalit students to commit suicide. The student, in his suicide letter, described his birth a fatal accident.

The report, dated June 22 but made public now, observed that the university authorities did nothing to assuage his feelings.

“NCSC feels that University authorities/MHRD should examine the whole set of circumstances leading up to this tragic event and take steps to ensure that the SC students are not discriminated against and are fully assimilated into the university life not only in the University of Hyderabad but across campuses in the country,” it said.

The Commission also advised Cyberabad police to complete the investigation file the report in the court at the earliest.

The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, an umbrella group of various student organisations at the university, on Thursday reiterated its demand for the sacking and arrest of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao.

Following the suicide, a police case was registered against Appa Rao, university official Alok Pandey, union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, ABVP leader Susheel Kumar and BJP legislator Ramchander Rao under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Commission based on the report from Guntur district collector concluded that Rohith was a Dalit, setting aside all doubts being raised in the wake of reports that his father was not a Dalit.

“Rohith’s mother was SC and the children were brought up in an environment of deprivation and discrimination in the SC locality. The district collector is of firm view that Rohith belonged to the SC and there is absolutely no doubt about this,” the report said.

The Commission advised the Guntur district administration to pay Rs.412,500 (50 percent of 825,000) to his mother as relief amount as per the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 2016 and the remaining amount after police files a chargesheet.

It also asked the district collector to provide relief like housing, employment and monetary help as the family comes under Below Poverty Line.

The Commission said appointment may be given to Rohith’s brother as a gesture towards fulfilling the commitment made by the vice-chancellor. The vice chancellor was also advised to hand over financial assistance of Rs.8 lakh sanctioned by the university to Rohith’s mother.

Medaram Jathara

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