Dalit student’s death: Scratched paragraph in suicide note adds to mystery

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If dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide had already left many unanswered questions, a scratched paragraph in his hand-written suicide note has only added to the mystery surrounding his tragic death.

To add another dimension to it, the words, written within parenthesis, immediately after this scratched paragraph say, “I myself strike these words off.” These words are followed by a short signature, purportedly that of Vemula, 26.

The letter was recovered from the hostel room at the University of Hyderabad where Vemula hung himself with a banner of his students’ union, the Ambedkar Students’ Association, on Sunday. The letter has been sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

“The letter was sent to forensic lab for handwriting match and other analysis. It will take a few days to get the report,” PTI reported, quoting police sources.

Since the scratched words are ineligible, speculation – and politics — has started on as to what those words could be. One version says that Vemula was possibly disappointed with lack of support from his own dalit students’ union. But this remains only a speculation that could well have been initiated by those who would have their own motives.

The HRD Ministry, under minister Smritit Irani, and Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya, a BJP MP, are already under fire from opposition parties that are taking turns to reach Hyderabad, meet dalit students sitting on a strike just outside the university campus, and make speeches.

Another unanswered related to Vemula’s death is that unexplained gap between his approximate death and the realisation of his suicide to the world. This mysterious gap could be as long as almost six hours.

Vemula committed suicide two weeks after the university suspended him and four other students and banned them from the hostel and other areas of the institution. Their expulsion came after their alleged fight with activists of the BJP’s student’s wing, Akhil Bharatiya Students Parishd, in August.

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