Monday, January 18, 2016

Rohith Vemula's death is institutional murder: Discrimination with Dalit students, caste atrocities in Indian universities

The death of Rohith Vemula has shocked the nation. Especially, the students' fraternity, is aghast. But can it stir us enough, to make all of us take up the cudgels and ensure a change in the system?

That's easier said than done. Caste has killed talent for centuries in this country and our universities have been guardians of 'caste merit' for ages.

Rohith's death is not the first such incident. Dalit students have been facing institutional biases in campuses across the country. The incidents in EFLU or the students' protest in Madras Law College, are just a few examples of injustice towards the Dalits.

The University action was exactly in sync with the manner in which dominant castes act against the dalits, oppressed castes. The academia is no different from the rural landscape where caste atrocities are the order of the day.

The five research scholars, all Dalits, were barred from entering the hostels, administration buildings and from participation in elections. They were suspended.

When students from the poor families, who have work hard to reach the edifices of higher education find that there is no idealism here but the same mindset ruling these institutions of 'high learning', what they must have felt. 

That, there is no justice. No way to fight the 'system'. That the 'system', the 'status quo' will always prevail.

In his last letter, Rohith wrote that how he felt 'empty'. One could sense, what he must have gone through.

The Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA) had raised its voice against capital punishment.
How can it be termed 'anti-national'. The Law Commission of India has also supported abolition of death penalty.

So how come anyone against death penalty be termed 'anti-national'. But ASA had become a thorn in the flesh of the casteist edifice of the central university.

This is what Rohith had written in an earlier letter to the vice-chancellor:

1. Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.
          2.Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from your companion, the great          Chief Warden.
         [See link]

The ABVP, which is the students' body linked to Sangh Parivar, was against the ASA stand.
The ABVP had the support of the University administration. False accusations were made against ASA office-bearers.

A committee, however, found that the allegations were untrue. Still, ABVP got local MP to write a letter to Smriti Z Irani, the Union minister.

The VC quickly took action against the research scholars, who were suspended.

Even, the stipends were stopped. The research scholars were expelled from the hostel and were staying in the open.

The row had began in July. But for months, the Hyderabad University [Central University] sat over it, refusing to resolve issue, which ultimately led to Rohith ending his life.

The vice-chancellor Appa Rao acted in a partisan manner. BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to Smriti Irani, about 'anti-national activities' on campus.

After this letter, the administration came out vengefully against the research scholars. And, the rest is known to everybody. Do read the links to understand the turn of events which led to the death.

*The events that led to Rohith Vemula's suicide [Times of India]
*Social boycott of Dalit scholars [CounterCurrents]
*What is actually happening in the University of Hyderabad [RoundTableIndia]
*How ABVP-BJP killed Rohith Vemula [IndiaResists]
*Rohith's suicide was not due to personal issues, read his letter to VC [DailyO]