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Rohith Vemula's death - A youth's perspective

(Note:- This article was written on 30 Januray, but I kept adding points as they came into my mind and confirmed them.)

Today is Rohith Vemula’s birth anniversary. Personally, his death hurt me very badly. Emotionally I was broken from inside. I’m still keeping an eye on every news that comes in that matter. I would call it a “death” because I’ll not call it a suicide nor can claim that he was physically killed, obviously due to the lack of strong evidence. But we can definitely say that it was an “institutional murder”. Ya! This term has become very familiar to us in these days but what is that, how & why it’s done?

Caste-conflict is not an issue of contemporary politics. We’ve to look at the historical wars between Dravids & Aryans and then Brahmins & non-Brahmins. While speaking with some youngsters who presently studies in colleges, I came to know that they think the casteism is a recent thing and has nothing to do with our history and it is limited only to the reservations. While on the other hand, youth in protests and overall movements knows everything behind these atrocities. Well, it’s a different topic.

We all know about the perspectives of both the sides and what the facts are. I want to dissent that why Rohith Vemula’s death is being an issue of “dalit or non-dalit”. First thing first, The HRD Ministry on Tuesday rejected allegations that it had put any pressure on the University of Hyderabad in the matter relating to the suspension of Dalit student Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on Sunday; but later the six letters were came into light. Again a statement by Minister of Human Resource Development ‘Smriti Irani’ said that he was not amongst the dalit society and that issue should not be considered as “dalit vs non-dalit”. And later on found that she was wrong, or it may be a conscious false statement. I don’t know! But if we consider it a mistake, question arises “why & how?” or if it was a mindful claim, people like me may dissent that “whether that statement was made to dilute the issue and make it mild like a common death? So that the protests and rallies will be reduced and no pressure will come on BJP government as their ministers are involved in this matter.” She then said Bandaru Dattatrey himself is a dalit. So, she’s trying to say that a non-dalit faced discrimination & died because of a dalit person. Great logic! The problem is not that whether any of them are dalit or non-dalit. Both are human first, but a student was trying to spread the message of emancipation, while the minister was propagating the Hindutva of RSS. First of all, we, the people of India are not silly to consider her statements as true. If she tries to do that, she has to remember that the protest during the Nirbhaya’s rape & murder was not gathered on the basis of the caste. Also, former Union minister Sanjay Paswan who is a leader of BJP itself accused Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya of showing "grave insensitivity" in this matter. 

Just to make you people remember, I want to add a point that Nirbhaya, who was raped & later on died. I still do not know what her caste was, inspite of the huge protest in all over India. But in Rohith Vemula’s case, whole world came to know ‘in detail’ that he was a dalit who belonged to Mala caste which falls in Scheduled Caste category. And also his father was from Vaddera caste which falls in Other Backward Castes. WHY? During Nirbhaya’s incident, whole India stood up for her, irrespective of caste, which was a good sign of sensible citizens, but what happens to those sensible citizens when some caste-atrocity takes place. No one stood up except staunch followers of Dr. Ambedkar, some organizations working for backward castes and Republican parties. Non one stands up, not even today. I was looking for those candle-holders who hold protest by finding the type of crime and caste of that person. Despite knowing that people from all over the world are protesting against the institutional murder, India’s so-called upper caste who protest for abolition of reservation seems to be not interested in taking part in protests which demands the arrest and investigation of abettors of death of a research scholar student of India, who was going to become a scientist in future. But for those so-called elites, Rohith was just a dalit. Why don’t they understand that he was a human like you and me. By looking at this situation I feel that caste and money is more important than someone’s life. One more thing to add, that Nirbhaya became the India’s daughter, but Priyanka Bhotmange who’s family was brutally raped, tortured & murdered in Khairlanji, hardly receives attention of India.

Which institute in the world kicks their students out of the colleges and hostels! Didn’t they thought that they’ll die in such cold atmosphere! Important thing is, if administration found the students of ASA group was anti-national, why didn’t they reported it to the police? Instead of boycotting them from hostels, enquiry could have been taken place. And if they were not committing any wrong things, why university administration expelled them? The students were in the middle. How come Union Minister is directly available to a student’s group like ABVP which takes immediate action and involves MHRD directly without confirming the authenticity of the story told by ABVP. How did the Bandaru Dattatrey came to the conclusion that the ASA is “casteist, extremist & anti-national”? Most of the ASA students are from Dalit or backward caste background, how can they become casteist where a law exists just to protect people (from so-called upper-castes) from the very society on whom the allegations are made. If students of ASA were wrong, why didn’t administration took them to courts instead of boycotting them for unknown period of time? And why they were allowed to attend lectures then, if they were anti-national? Do you allow terrorists to attend lectures in university partially expelling them? This is clear case of ideology and caste-conflict in between ABVP (a Hindutva group) and ASA (a Ambedkarite Buddhist group). In short, there was no strict lawful action taken against ASA because administration knew that they cannot prove their point and on the other hand, they don’t want ASA to reside in university hostel only because they think they are (so-called) lower-castes which are going to become scientists. (Manusmriti tells that a lower caste should not sit or stand along with the Brahmins as they are upper caste and can become impure just by the shadow of lower caste. If lower caste tries to read, write, learn something, a Brahmin must pour lead in his ears, cut his tongue and pluck his eyes out. Lower caste has no right to be educated and earn wealth. Whatever he has, must be taken out by the Brahmin.)

ABVP has started sharing Rohith’s photos with cigarette and alcohol. If they feel that it is wrong, why your loved one political party or NaMo is not banning all those products despite having power? There is a famous thing, that if you are unable to fight on intellectual level and feel that you’re going to fail, start maligning others’ character and shift the focus of the discussion from intellect to character. I’m damn sure that Hindutva forces cannot fight with Ambedkarites on intellectual ground.
Controversy on Yakub Memon’s hanging was a biased discussion held in Hindutva groups which led to the confusion in neutral crowd. The truth is that, he didn’t oppose the Yakub’s hanging, instead he was against the capital punishment and the placards shown by ABVP as a proof depicts that Rohith Vemula and Ambedkar Students’ Associations was anti-national, was completely false. The images shown by ABVP are fake and ASA members have also denied & rejected the allegations. If they were a supporter of terrorism, why didn’t they held any anti-national activity in country since their existence?

Questioning Rohith’s nationalism is a stupid thing. If he supported Yakub Memon for his wrong-doings, why will he express his condolences for the Indian military martyrs of Pathankot attack? We can still look his post on his Facebook profile. Most important part is that, we’ve to look who is raising questions on Rohith’s nationalism. ABVP, a student wing of RSS/BJP, which do not respect Indian Constitution, democracy, secularism & peace. The organization which was banned four times for anti-national activities and after independence, the first reason was that they assassinated Gandhiji. If they feel that killing people is wrong thing and Yakub Memon must be hanged; then why do they praise Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhiji? Recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that “we can change our constitution”. Nowadays, such people are deciding who is patriot and who is anti-national. I can provide a whole list of attacks and vandalism by RSS, ABVP, VHP and their other sister organizations like Bajrang Dal, Ranvir Sena, Hindu Janjagran Samiti, Abhinav Bharat, Sanatan Sanstha, etc; the list is easily available on internet also. They may not be knowing that patriotism lies in respecting the freedom of expression of our own countrymen; and not declaring everyone as anti-national. If you’re that much patriot that you feel your society is in danger, you’ll take the ‘help’ of laws and not ‘laws itself’ in hand considering you can instigate violence. This quality of ABVP comes in light with their attacks on students & audiences of Ram ke Naam, Jai Bhim Comrade and Muzzafarnagar baaqi hai. The films which doesn’t match with their ideology and shows their patriotism in action. Also their attack on Kabir Kala Manch’s freedom of speech portrays what their nationalism is. If this is the matter that RSS and ABVP like to characterize people as patriot and terrorist, why don’t they declare Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Col. Purohit as terrosrists? Isn’t it extremism and anti-national?

Some people say that terrorism has no religion or color, but I have my own personal view that terrorism has religion and color both. The saffron terrorism, which tries to work and behave like Taliban. This ideology killed many great people in the history of India, and also Rohith Vemula’s death is a result of such elements exists even now. If we look at this case as a general suicide which commonly happens anywhere, can those people give answers to the murders of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare and Prof. MM Kalburgi? These all murders including Rohith is an ideological battle prevailing since thousands of years, on the basis of casteism & varnashram system. The culprits caught were later found to be from Sanatan Hindutva groups.

BJP government is trying (according to their dogma of Sangh Parivar) to transform universities into the dens of ABVP. They must answer how many letters and reminders were sent to the various universities in which ABVP created fracas with unions like SFI in Government Victoria College in Palakkad, AISA in Allahabad University, AISF in Osmania University, DYFI in Kottayam’s Govt college, NSUI & CYSS in Delhi University? Why don’t BJP expel or rusticate ABVP students, blocks their stipend or fellowships, boycott them from hostels & canteens, bring them to ground, crush their voice. What are the strict actions are being taken against “Hindu Swabhiman Sena” and “Durga Vahini” for arms training and toting weapons? When some young people were protesting in Dharavi for Rohith’s death, some RSS goons attacked them with lathis & rods (which RSS teaches its swayamsevaks to use) and beats people injuring 10-15 students. Soon, Education Minister Vinod Tawde reaches the spot to pressurize the cops not to register a case against the RSS workers under the atrocity act. When Appa Rao Podile went on indefinite leave, Prof. Vipin Shrivastava get appointed as in-charge VC, who was the Dean of Physics when the fellowship was stopped to research scholar S Senthil Kumar who had committed suicide in the same university. These are the recent issues. The picture is clear that, ‘GOOD students of ABVP complained to minister about BAD Ambedkarite students’ and minister blindly believes & takes action without confirming the case. I don’t know how Congress joined the protest, because if they have any idea of sufferings of the common people & oppressed classes, they could have banned RSS way back when they were ruling the country.

More than 131 academicians around the globe wrote an open letter in solidarity with Rohith Vemula. Protest demonstrations were held at major universities and cities across the USA i.e. Boston, San Francisco, Michigan, Washington DC, New York. Also in London (UK), South Africa, Rome (Italy), Portugal expressing outrage. Will RSS and ABVP declare them terrorist too? Protests are growing in abroad demanding actions, arrest, investigation and punishment of MHRD Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatrey, Vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile and those police who were involved in this case who didn’t acted fast and forced Rohith’s mother and brother to finish the funeral to erase the evidence by destroying his body quicky. It’ll be good if government sack all those involved, but Modi’s government has already made it clear during the Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj & Lalit Modi row that no one from his ministry will resign. We’ve previously seen that communalism was grown in BJP’s regime; the same atmosphere we’re experiencing now, that’s why we call them intolerant. So BJP needs to know that whoever rules their society with vengeance, immorality & unfaithfulness, never rules again.

-          Aashit Sable.

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