Guntur: In a new twist to Hyderabad University's late Ph.D scholar Rohith Vemula's caste issue, the Guntur district collector has ordered a fresh probe to ascertain his caste identity.
Collector Kantilal Dande was quoted as saying by the 'Times of India' that the caste status of the research scholar is shrouded in "ambiguity" and needed a fresh probe.
Importantly, his office had earlier claimed that Rohith was a 'Dalit'.
Dande further said that a fresh inquiry was needed to establish Rohith's caste identity because two previous reports, the first by Guntur Urban Mandal revenue officer, and the second by Gurjala Mandal Revenue officer, gave him different accounts.
While the Guntur report said he was a Dalit, the Gurjala one said he was from a backward class.
While Rohith was born in Guntur urban, his father was from Gurjala. Only the first report, which gave him Dalit status, went to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).
The establishment of Rohith's caste status is important because Dalit activists have charged that Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya and University of Hyderabad vice-chancellor Appa Rao are guilty under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act for abetting Rohith's suicide.
They claim that while Dattatreya wrote letters to HRD Ministry saying that the protesting students were "anti-nationals", the VC did nothing to address the students' demands against the UoH reportedly stopping payment of his fellowship of Rs 25,000 per month after he was found "raising issues under the banner of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA)".
Neither Dattatreya nor Rao has been questioned so far, with the police saying it can't proceed against them because the Guntur collector hasn't sent a proper caste certificate of Rohith.