HYDERABAD: The Independent Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Environment , in a prima facie report on the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula, has strongly indicted the authorities of the Hyderabad Central University and the Human Resource Development Ministry.

The Peoples Tribunal set up a fact finding at the request of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice with Justice (Retd) Justice Suresh H, Sujata Surepalli Editor Desi Disa, US Rao, Chairman CBC Federation, Meena Menon, Researcher and Gayatri Singh, senior advocate as the members.

The Citizen reproduces excerpts from the fact finding report:

1. The death of Rohith Vemula was caused by the acts of omission and commission of the authorities.

2. On December 18 2015, Rohith along with other members of ASA (Ambedkar Students Association) met the Vice Chancellor and requested him to revoke the Order of suspension and raised the humiliating issue of social boycott. The students were sad to know that the VC was adamant and refused to resolve the issue on the spot. Rohith wrote a letter dated the same day stating that the students were not likely to get justice from the VC.

3. The Office of the Vice Chancellor suppressed this letter dated December 18 2015, refusing to invoke even basic protocols in such situations. This is not only dereliction of duty cast on University Authorities but also constitutes grave contempt of the Orders of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, particularly in the conduct of the composition of the Committees, procedure mandated for incidents that may lead to expulsion, and appellate provisions thereto.

4. The Office of the Vice Chancellor allowed the incident of 3 / 4 August 2015 to spiral out of control is shocking. It is evident from the documents on record that the Vice Chancellor allowed his office to be played by the Minister of Human Resource and Development to advance their own political agenda.

5. Recommendations of the Proctor’s Committee are shocking to say the least.These transgress the fundamental protection provided within the Constitution. That the Committee could prescribe such a punishment reflects its lack of understanding of the Constitution, and is a matter of concern.

6. The extended members of the Proctoral Committee were not allowed to deliberate and influence the outcome of the Extended Proctoral Committee show the sham it was.

7. The call of the Proctoral Committee to ban all associations on the basis of ideology, Caste, Religion reflects a deep rooted prejudice against politically active students and their associations. That the administration can echo a position that is contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution is a matter of deep concern.

8.Thhe Executive Sub Committee constituted by the Vice Chancellor did not take umbrage to the aforesaid observations of the Proctoral Committee casts doubt over the competency of a prima facie extremely prejudiced Executive Sub Committee.

9.The dereliction of duty exhibited by the Office of the Vice Chancellor to even engage with protesting students is a clear abdication of his foremost duty to act in the best interest of Students is clear.

10.The University of Hyderabad , failed to take cognisance of recurring suicides by students from rural and marginalised communities is horrifying. That comprehensive investigations were taken up only in some cases is disturbing. That the recommendations of these investigations were ignored strengthens our resolve that the disregard for students from rural and marginalised Communities seems to be a concern that will require systemic correction.

11. Rohith Vemula was folded into the alleged incident of August 3, 2015, when he was not even present at the said incident or referred to reflects a preset agenda to target him. This is further borne out by the sequence of events which shows taking cognisance on a complaint by a rank outsider, manipulation of facts, tampering with evidence. That these events followed the intervention of Bandaru Dattatreya and the Minister of HRD strengthen our view that the University was not concerned about an impartial investigation but was only keen to bend over backwards to please the Minister of HRD.

12.That students from the rural and marginalised communities are denied timely payment of their Fellowships, runs contrary to the purpose and objective of the fellowships. That there is no effective administrative oversight to ensure timely payments to these students has allowed a systemic bias to be perpetuated without any redress. It is obvious that this system enjoys tacit approval of the administration.

13. The continuing and growing incidence of tragic suicides of students belonging to marginalised sections of society makes it imperative that a “Rohith Law’ be enacted, which is the demand of both students of the Joint Action Committee and Rohith’s family. This should ensure punitive action against university administrations guilty of encouragement, abetting or even inaction in the case of the persistence of exclusionary practices in Universities.