The district collector of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, has issued a third and final showcause notice to Rohith Vemula’s mother, Radhika, to prove her claim within 15 days that she belongs to a Scheduled Caste community. The notice, issued last week and received by Radhika on Sunday evening, states that if she fails to prove her claim then the SC certificates issued to her family members by a Mee Seva centre in Guntur would be cancelled.
Recalling their last visit to the Guntur DC’s office in November last year, Radhika’s son, Raja, Chaitanya said, “They humiliated us — their line of questioning was very humiliating. They cast aspersions on my mother’s character.”
Guntur Collector Kantilal Dande had ordered an inquiry into Rohith’s caste status in June last year after his father, Mani Kumar Vemula, submitted an affidavit that he belongs to the Vaddera (OBC), and therefore his son Rohith was not a Dalit.
Rohith, a PhD scholar at University of Hyderabad (UoH), committed suicide on the campus on January 17 last year after he was expelled from hostel and socially boycotted — along with a few other students from Dalit communities — as punishment for allegedly assaulting an ABVP student leader.
A notice was issued in October 2016 to Radhika to appear before the inquiry committee to ascertain her caste. She and son Raja Vemula appeared before the committee at the Guntur District Collector’s office on November 2.
Raja Chaitanya, Rohith’s brother, said, “The inquiry committee was supposed to ask us about our caste. Instead, they asked my mother how she brought up her children, as she was separated from her husband and was without a job. It was all planned and aimed at denying that we are Dalits.”
Raja said they had received notices earlier, had replied and showed the authorities certificates issued by Mee Seva centres. “They are now trying to prove that certificates issued by them (Mee Seva) are false,’’ he said.
Launched by the then united Andhra Pradesh government in 2011, Mee Seva is an eGovernance service delivery system meant to provide certificates and documents issued by various government departments.
Although Rohith Vemula took admission in UoH under general category, he possessed a certificate attesting that he belonged to Mala (SC) community. On June 16, 2015, a Mee Seva centre in Guntur issued a ‘Community, Nativity and Date of Birth Certificate’ to Rohith attesting that he belonged to Mala (SC) community. The certificate was digitally signed by the Tahsildhar of Guntur Mandal, K Sivanarayana Murti, who later claimed that he had no clue such a certificate was issued.