Rohith Vemula’s Suicide: Right Answers For The Wrong Questions, Series Of Events Explained
Some insights, reports into Rohith’s suicide
1.) Rohith Vemula, a PhD student from Hyderabad University, committed suicide with a suicide note which did not incriminate anyone but had certainly hinted at being discriminated.
2.) The suicide was preceded by Rohith being expelled from hostel and also his scholar discontinued. The scholarship was crucial for his and his family’s sustenance.
3.) There have been many reports of discrimination and suicide at the University of Hyderabad, there have reportedly been 10 suicides out of which 9 have been Dalits.
4.) Various political leaders and documents have pointed out to political pressure in getting Rohith expelled which many allege led to his suicide.
5.) Demands of holding the Vice Chancellor accountable have been gathering quick and fast, besides widespread condemnation against Union HRD Minister Sri Smriti Irani for having written letters to the VC of the university for the expulsion of Rohith among few other students.
6.) An FIR has been filed against an BJP MP among others under the prevention of atrocities against SC/ST act.
■ Some unverified facts from either side of the story
1. There was a clash between ABVP and ASA which was the reason for Rohith’s expulsion.
■ ASA had a meeting protesting against Yakub Menon’s hanging, ABVP members came to oppose the meeting and were thrashed.
■ The clash was not at all during the protest against Yakub’s hanging. It was during the screening of “Muzaffarnagar Abhi Baki Hai” when ABVP disrupted the screening and the clash took place.
2. ABVP leader had to be hospitalized.
■ He was beaten up by ASA goons during either 1(a) or 1(b).
■ He was admitted for having acute appendicitis.
3. The university decided to rusticate Rohith and 4 others.
■ It was solely the university’s decision after several rounds of inquiry. While the first set of inquiries found them innocent, the second found them guilty.
■ Union Minister and local MP Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to HRD ministry that ASA is a group of casteist and anti-nationalist people and its members assaulted the ABVP leader. HRD Ministry wrote 5 letters to the University and as a result, they were expelled from the University on the basis of the same inquiry which has earlier given them a clean chit in the whole matter.
4. Regarding Rohith’s caste
■ A police inquiry has revealed that Rohith does not belong to the Dalit community. Under such circumstances, the FIR under the prevention of atrocities against SC/ST act is invalid.
■ Rohith’s mother has produced a caste certificate to the police. She has vented her anger on the questioning of caste of a victim despite showing the certificate.
5. Regarding expulsion
■ (a) Expulsion was a disciplinary action against students indulging in violent politics.
■ Expulsion was a casteist action against members of ASA who were protesting against casteism.
■ Let us brush aside politics
Rohith was a PHd student from Hyderabad Central University, having pursued PHd in itself makes him one of the few promising youngsters of our country, given the very few people who have the privilege or having earned the opportunity to pursue higher education. This promising life came to an abrupt halt when he committed suicide, with the suicide note dealing the anguish on how an individual is reduced to his nearest identity among many other things. There have been questions and counter questions and different opinions on the whole issue. But not all the questions and subsequent answers serve the purpose. Swathes of politicians have visited Hyderabad University, questioning their sincerity and intentions would deflect us from raising more important questions.
■ Prime Minister could have taken a step further
Prime Minister was spot on when he spoke about Rohith’s suicide, politics aside, a mother has lost her child and it deserves condemnation and action. It would have been reassuring had the PM spoken more and earlier on the issue. However the PM has done or said little to assure on if the guilty will be brought to the books. The high chances of the guilty belonging to the ruling party itself could be a reason for the moral dilemma which the Prime Minister is facing.
■ Universities should foster innovation and free speech
Universities and institutions of higher education are supposed to be a place for innovation, free speech and mutual respect. Rohith’s suicide is symbolic of lack of all three. Presence of active associations and student wings of political parties is a welcome sign, but such presence should not impose on each other, rather, should hear each other out for the purpose of common good. India is going through a demographic dividend where there is a vast population who are in a productive age. If fissure’s are allowed to widen in this demographic dividend on caste, ideology or religious lines, we as a nation could bypass the benefits what the young population have to offer for the country, benefits that could very well alter the destiny of India for good.
■ Let’s face it and own up to it
9 out of 10 suicides at the Hyderabad University have been Dalits, students and teachers have often complained of condescending behavior and discrimination towards Dalits in the University. Dalits have already had a past to forget, as a society we ought to come together and give them a helping hand, support and encourage them to rise above the red line. The best way for the country to move forward, is to move forward together and shoulder to shoulder as equals. As a country we can’t term ourselves progressive and developed by leaving behind or looking down upon the Dalit community or being silent when others do so. Democracy is about being a voice for the voiceless, it is about empowerment of the weaker sections. For a democratic country like us, both government and the people have a responsibility in being the voice for the weaker sections. Let us take a pledge, reaffirm ourselves and reassure others that no matter which caste or religion one belongs to we would treat each other with mutual respect and help the disadvantaged and the underprivileged. Institutions and administration should be given clear instructions to prevent discrimination; besides, a massive media campaign on the lines of Swachh Bharat should be launched to end this menace of caste discrimination.