In a tragic incident, a Dalit scholar in University of Hyderabad was forced to commit suicide after allegedly being subjected to go through unbearable insults by the university administration.
Rohith Vemula’s body was found hanging in his room on Sunday, after he was expelled allegedly at the behest of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad- the student wing of the RSS.
According to a Times of India report, Rohith, 25, was a resident of Guntur and was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies for the past two years.
However, a small tiff with the rival students belonging to the ABVP last year ‘prompted’ the university administration to order an inquiry whose completion saw the proctorial board order Rohith’s expulsion along with four other friends.
Such was his crime that the bright scholar was barred from entering the administrative building, hostels, libraries, mess and other common areas.
It may have appeared to be a small fight between two rival student groups but its fallout prompted the BJP MP and a minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, Bandaru Dattatreya, to officially write (see letter below) to the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani before allegedly forcing the university administration to expel the deceased along with four other students.
Rohith’s suicide has evoked angry reactions from intellectuals, prominent journalists and students across the country.
Senior journalist and former editor of India Today magazine (Hindi), Dilip Mondal, expressed his outrage on Facebook.
He wrote sarcastically, “This is nothing but a cold-blooded murder. A senior BJP minister writes an official letter to another senior BJP minister requesting an immediate action against students from Ambedkar Students Association and the university promptly expels five Dalit students. This is nothing but a cold-blooded murder.”
For last two weeks the expelled Dalit scholars were forced to sleep in the open, demanding reinstatement.
The Joint Action Committee formed by students sympathetic to Dalit scholars’ expulsions had also gone on indefinite strike last week.
But little did others realise that Rohith had discreetly gone to the NRS hostel, locked himself in a room and committed suicide.
He was a student leader in the Ambedkar Students Association and actively participated in student activities and other university initiatives.
As expected, Appa Rao Podile, the vice-chancellor, has expressed his shock and grief.
He said, “I am shocked over the extreme step taken by the scholar. I did speak to the scholars a few days back on this issue. However, I had no clue that he will take such a step.”
But Rohith’s friends are blaming the university administration for pushing him to commit suicide. S Munna from the ASA said, “It is due to the administration’s ignorance towards students’ issues which forced Rohith to take such a step. We hope at least now the administration wakes up to dalit issues and takes revokes its decision.”
Student bodies in Tata Institute of Social Science, JNU and Hyderabad’s English and Foreign Language University have called for massive protests on Monday.