The Delhi government has offered a clerical job to the brother of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula whose suicide triggered a debate on campus discrimination and led to a confrontation between student groups and the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Raja Vemula – a Masters degree holder in applied geology — said on Tuesday he was yet to accept the job, offered on “compassionate grounds”.
Delhi chief minister Kejriwal made an announcement on a job to Rohith’s brother after meeting the Dalit student’s mother in Delhi on February 24.
The university campus turned into the epicentre of nationwide protests after Rohith committed suicide in January following his suspension along with four other students for alleged assault on a leader of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Students and opposition parties had accused the BJP government of driving the student to suicide due to its alleged bias towards Dalits and so-called lower castes.
Besides the MSc degree from Pondicherry Central University with 72.8% marks, Raja has cleared the national eligibility test (NET) which qualifies him to be hired as an assistant professor in any college in the country.
“The candidate has been given relaxation from normal procedure of selection… and relaxation of skill test qualifications,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s letter sent on April 4 says. It is a temporary post.
According to Delhi government officials, only group c and d jobs — clerical level — can be offered on compassionate grounds.
“When the family came to Delhi, they had asked for a job for Rohith’s brother and expressed a desire to move to Delhi. We have offered them a house…The aim is to help the family tide over financial distress,” an official said.
Raja told HT he was “grateful to Mr Kejriwal” but added he has not yet made up his mind about taking the job.
“When my brother was alive, he would often say that his dream was to see me do a PhD from a foreign university. I have a strong urge to make his dream come true. I want him to be proud of me.”
However, some students and teachers at Hyderabad university criticised Kejriwal for “insulting” the academic qualifications of Rohith’s brother.
“Raja is a highly qualified, hard working and bright Dalit. Offering him a job like this is simply insulting,” said Gummidi Prabhakar, a close friend of Rohith and a leader of the Ambedkar Students’ Association.
Sowmya Dechamma, an assistant professor at the university supporting the students’ agitation, was also critical of the AAP offer.