Rohith Vemula’s mother: Don’t want your Rs 8 lakh or Rs 8 crore… Tell me why my son died

Radhika Vemula asked this on Saturday amid claims that her son Rohith, whose suicide is being seen as the fallout of caste discrimination, was not a Dalit.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Updated: January 24, 2016 11:27 am
rohit vemula, rohit suicide, rohith mother, rohith vemula death, rohith vemula suicide, hyderabad dalit suicide, hyderabad student suicide, india news Rohith Vemula’s mother in tears at her son’s memorial. (Source: Photo by Harsha Vadlamani)

“When a girl named Nirbhaya was brutally raped and killed, did anyone question her caste? Then why is Rohith’s caste under question here?” Radhika Vemula asked this on Saturday amid claims that her son Rohith, whose suicide is being seen as the fallout of caste discrimination, was not a Dalit.

The 49-year-old who is divorced from Rohith’s father and raised him and his two siblings working as a tailor also refused the Rs 8 lakh ex-gratia offered by the University of Hyderabad. “We do not need your money. Not Rs 8 lakh, even if you give Rs 8 crore, we do not need it,” Rohith’s sister Neelima said.

Radhika, accompanied by Neelima and son Raja, was on the campus to meet the seven students on the fourth day of their fast at the university’s protest venue. She told them, “You are all like my sons. If you need anything at all, I will help you. I will be here to support you, help you.”

Later in the evening, all the seven students were shifted to the university health centre after their condition deteriorated. UoH security officials took police help to shift the students, amidst protests by the Students’ Joint Action Committee. They have been put on IV fluids.

Clarifying the caste issue, Radhika said while her husband was an OBC, she herself was from the SC Mala community. “From the age of five, I grew up in a Vaddera family (Vadderas are OBCs), with whom my SC Mala family left me. Since I was raised by a Vaddera family, they married me to a Vaddera man in 1985. After three children, my husband and I divorced and I brought up the kids on my own. Since I am from the Mala community, I brought them up like that. We used to live in a lane in Guntur where, even today, only SC families live. My children are as much Dalit as I am.”

A certificate issued by the Revenue Department of Government of Andhra Pradesh, on June 16, 2015, clearly states that Rohith belongs to the Mala community.

“My question is why I am being asked all these questions instead of being given the reasons why Rohith was suspended?” Radhika said. “Why is the issue being diverted?”

Watch video: What Transpired

Apart from demanding action against ABVP leader N Susheel Kumar, with whom Rohith and his friends had got into a scuffle leading to his suspension, and Vice-Chancellor Prof Appa Rao, the family said a law like the Nirbhaya Act must be introduced to curb discrimination against Dalits and to act against people responsible for suicides by them.

Pointing out that she was still waiting for basic answers on Rohith’s suspension, Radhika said, “Did my child commit suicide or did you push him to death? Or did you murder him? I do not need anything. All I want to know from the vice-chancellor and university officials is why my son died. I want to know who is responsible and whether they are being punished or not. Instead of answering us, they are raising questions regarding our caste.”

Radhika said they had also refused Prof Rao’s request to meet them at their home. “We do not want to meet you at our house. You don’t have to come there. You have to come to the place where Rohith died and give us an explanation,” she said.

Apart from Rohith, his siblings and mother too now live in Hyderabad. His sister moved to the city after her marriage, while Radhika came here towards end of December. Raja has been staying in the city since September 2013, when he got a Project Fellowship at National Geophysical Research Institute at Hyderabad.

Recounting how tough it was for their mother to raise them, Raja said Radhika hardly earned Rs 100-150 a day all through the 1990s but ensured all her children went to college. Staff at the private school they studied in and later their college contributed money to pay their fees, he said. One year younger than Rohith, Raja added, “Rohith was very caring and friendly. There is hardly anyone back in our village in Guntur who didn’t know him. To take pressure off our mother, Rohith and I worked from 4:30 pm to 11:30 pm for Rs 40 a day when Rohith was at Hindu Degree College. Rohith also worked as a courier boy for two months before moving to Hyderabad.”

Rohith got scholarship to study Intermediate at AP Residential Junior College at Hindupur. After completing Intermediate, Rohith got admission at Hindu Degree College at Guntur, where he scored 80 per cent marks. He joined MSc at University of Hyderabad after securing 6th rank in the entrance test. He got 90th rank in a test to join the CSIR.

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  1. I
    I am
    Jan 24, 2016 at 1:04 am
    Why BJP PM @NarendraModi Murder him? #ModiTheTerrorist #ModiTheMurderer #ModiGoBack #NarendraModiMurdabad @Indianexpress
    Reply
    1. F
      FekuSarkar
      Jan 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm
      Why do you hate Memon so much!?? Advani and Modi killed more people than him!! Or is it your frustration thats tKes over as soon as its Muslim?? Time to introspect!!
      Reply
      1. S
        Srividya Jayaraman
        Jan 24, 2016 at 2:55 am
        Who will.allow Nitish Kumar to become PM. People of South India will never allow a Bihari to rule this country.
        Reply
        1. A
          Anil
          Jan 24, 2016 at 3:41 am
          People of India is regreting for electing such a useless government.Is it because our PM is not allowed to work by some cronies around him
          Reply
          1. B
            Bijan Mohanty
            Jan 24, 2016 at 4:50 pm
            BJP and Central Govt. have not shown proper sensitivity to the issue . Very sad. Announcement of Rs 8 lakh istance is a mockery to the process of justice delivery by making monetary allurements.
            Reply
            1. K
              Karunakaran
              Jan 24, 2016 at 12:23 am
              About 200 million Dalits will be voting against the BJP and the selfie-hunting joker at the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. BJP was super lucky to receive 31% votes at the last Lok Sabha elections. At the next Lok Sabha election, BJP cannot get more than about 15% of the votes. No Muslim votes. No Dalit votes. No South India votes. No Delhi votes. No Bihar votes. And believe it or not, hardly any Gujarat votes! So get ready for Mr Nitish Kumar to be the next PM.
              Reply
              1. K
                Karunakaran
                Jan 24, 2016 at 12:03 am
                Dalits must start demanding a dedicated Central University for the Dalits. That is the only way India can ensure the non-Dalit teachers will stop disrespecting India's original inhabitants. US has dedicated universities for the blacks.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Karunakaran
                  Jan 24, 2016 at 12:56 am
                  In US, blacks can/do work as waiters/cooks everywhere. Can/do Dalits in India work as waiters/cooks even if they wanted to? Will uppercastes eat food cooked/served by Dalits in India?
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    Chandrakant Mohan
                    Jan 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm
                    It is high time for the ASA of Hydrabad University change its nomenclature to YAAKUB MEMON FANS OSIATION!
                    Reply
                    1. C
                      Chandrakant Mohan
                      Jan 24, 2016 at 5:13 am
                      Mohammed,the Prophet of Yaakub Memon and Owaisis had infamously declared "Who ever kills a snake, it is as if he killed a Mushrik (means a Polytheist like a Hindu ), whose blood it is permissible to shed" ( Musnad Ahmed ibn Hanbal-Volume 3-Hadith 3746 and 3996- Pages 349 and454- Darusm Books, Medina, Saudi Arabia). Such a way- Did the misguided activists of ASA consider the blood of ABVP boys permissible to shed with impunity?
                      Reply
                      1. C
                        Chandrakant Mohan
                        Jan 24, 2016 at 4:36 pm
                        Robert Vadra was originally Robert Vadera. Now Rohith Vemula's mother says he belonged to the Vadera caste.How come one belongs to the caste of Robert Vadera be a Dalit?
                        Reply
                        1. D
                          disgusted
                          Jan 24, 2016 at 1:18 pm
                          Teri kyun jal rahi hai? Hariyon ne ek bacche ko zinda jala dia aur tere jaise ko kuch fark nahi padta. Low life!!
                          Reply
                          1. D
                            disgusted
                            Jan 24, 2016 at 1:24 am
                            Why this" investigative" newspaper not exploring the fact that Rohith's 'suicide letter' was tampered with??
                            Reply
                            1. D
                              disgusted
                              Jan 24, 2016 at 1:19 am
                              Morning Namaz over??
                              Reply
                              1. D
                                disgusted
                                Jan 24, 2016 at 1:11 am
                                300000 thousands Muslims rampage in Malda, MSM and Siculiars stay mum. Similar incidents happen in Purnia and tonk but MSM and Siculiars stay mum. Dalit Hindu teenager burnt alive in pune by Muslim savages but MSM and Siculiars stay mum. WHY so biased?????? In this unfortunate case they have tried to insinuate real and imaginary allegations instead of reporting the truth which is really unfortunate!
                                Reply
                                1. D
                                  disgusted
                                  Jan 24, 2016 at 1:29 am
                                  Dalit Hindu boy burned alive in Pune on 13th Jan by Muslim savages for his religion but this newspaper is NOT raking it up in the same manner as this case. Why???? Kejri, Mamata, Nitesh, Pappu- none of them said anything about this. WHY?????
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    madhav
                                    Jan 24, 2016 at 8:39 pm
                                    """... let New India arise in your place. Let her arise — out of the peasants' cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer's shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains. These common people have suffered oppression for thousands of years — suffered it without murmur, and as a result have got wonderful forude. They have suffered eternal misery, which has given them unflinching vitality. Living on a handful of grain, they can convulse the world; give them only half a piece of bread, and the w world will not be big enough to contain their energy; they are endowed with the inexhaustible vitality of a Raktabija. And, besides, they have got the wonderful strength that comes of a pure and moral life, which is not to be found anywhere else in the world. Such peacefulness, such contentment, such love, such power of silent and incessant work, and such manifestation of lion's strength in times of action — where else will you find these! Skeletons of the Past, there, before you, are your successors, the India that is to be. Throw those treasure-chests of yours and those jewelled rings among them, as soon as you can; and you vanish into the air, and be seen no more — only keep your ears open. No sooner will you disappear than you will hear the inaugural shout of Renaissant India, ringing with the voice of a million thunders and reverberating throughout the universe, "Wah Guru Ki Fateh" — victory to the Guru!"""---------SWAMI VIVEKANANDA.........
                                    Reply
                                    1. M
                                      madhav
                                      Jan 24, 2016 at 8:16 pm
                                      """If the Brahmin has more apude for learning on the ground of heredity than the Pariah, spend no more money on the Brahmin's education, but spend all on the Pariah. Give to the weak, for there all the gift is needed. If the Brahmin is born clever, he can educate himself without help. If the others are not born clever, let them have all the teaching and the teachers they want. This is justice and reason as I understand it. Our poor people, these downtrodden mes of India, therefore, require to hear and to know what they really are. Ay, let every man and woman and child, without respect of caste or birth, weakness or strength, hear and learn that behind the strong and the weak, behind the high and the low, behind every one, there is that Infinite Soul, uring the infinite possibility and the infinite capacity of all to become great and good."""------SWAMI VIVEKANANDA.........
                                      Reply
                                      1. I
                                        Ilanthamizh Siva
                                        Jan 24, 2016 at 12:07 am
                                        Well my friend ! better integration is the answer. Segregation, as you propose, makes the discrimination worse.
                                        Reply
                                        1. B
                                          babu
                                          Jan 24, 2016 at 1:43 am
                                          Abe kab se chillaa raha hai
                                          Reply
                                          1. B
                                            babu
                                            Jan 24, 2016 at 1:16 am
                                            DALITS don't expect that high cl hindu will chenge their behavior against you it not there foult too it is your religion that put you down........,................................................... Convert to islam and have power and respect. ............................................. ........ .. It is funny Hindu belief that Brahma is GOD then what is wrong if dalits borne from Brahma foot or Brahma GOD foot is dirty too
                                            Reply
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