The unfortunate suicide of Rohith Vemula, a research scholar from University of Hyderabad has suddenly sparked political outrage in the country. According to sources, one ABVP leader Shushil Kumar complained against five members including Rohith from Ambedkar Student's Association (ASA) that he had been assaulted by them. Initial investigation report didn't find substantial proof hence the accused were let off with stern warning.
Then Bandaru Dattatreya, a BJP Union minister wrote to HRD minister citing that the ASA students are anti-national (because they demonstrated against Yakub's hanging) and indulged in caste-politics. He claimed that they got rid of punishment in the case of assaulting ABVP student due to poor investigation, hence needed strong action.
Subsequently, all the five accused students including Rohith were expelled from their hostel in December. They were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus except their classroom, library, conference and workshops related to their subject of study. They were evicted from their rooms and since then they were forced to sleep in a make shift camp in the campus.
Point is simple. The university V-C P. Appa Rao who is considered to be a BJP man might have acted as per the instructions of his political boss and served serious punishments to the accused students from ASA.
A case has been registered against Union minister, Bandaru Dattatreya, V-C P. Appa Rao and four others for abatement of suicide.
Now question is whether it's abatement to suicide by V-C and his political boss? If closely looked at, it's case of fierce student politics. It's a conflict between ABVP and ASA. The deceased was a part of such politics. Does political matter abate suicide?
In the suicide note Rohith didn't mention any such thing. If his suicide note is read carefully, it gives an indication that he was under tremendous strain due to caste based discrimination in University of Hyderabad (UoH). Question is whether this caste based discrimination a new phenomenon in this university after BJP took charge in Centre as opposition is blaming that aggressive saffronisation in the university led to caste based discrimination.
But facts are otherwise. According to senior faculty members, the caste based discrimination in UoH was there since its inception from 1974. This is nothing to do with politics. This was due to the social system prevailing in Hyderabad and its surrounding.
Is Rohith first to commit suicide for caste discrimination? The answer is again no. Nine students including Rohith from Dalit community committed suicide in University of Hyderabad due to caste based discrimination, in last decade. Before Rohith, in 2013 a PHD scholar M. Venkatesh committed suicide while opposing the caste based discrimination. Nine students committing suicide, it is not a small case. There must be something wrong in the University, which needs urgent attention. Definitely it's not politics that took nine lives. It's the caste base discrimination against marginalized sections that cost some genius lives; it's a socio-political problem. It requires urgent attention as University can't be a place for discrimination on any basis.
From a political point of view, yes, Bandaru Dattatreya has no locus standi in University politics. He may not abate the suicide but definitely vitiate the student politics. Action should be taken against him and I feel he should also be sacked as a minister.
But, what about others, who are doing politics over student's dead body? Arvind Kejriwal who was mum on Malda riots has become very vocal in this case. Mayawati sent a two member committee to the university. Rahul Gandhiis visiting the university today. Where was Rahul Gandhi when eight students from Dalit community committed suicide in last decade during UPA's rule? Bandaru Dattatreya is condemned from intervening in students’ politics. Why Rahul Gandhi should also not be condemned for intervening in students politics, first in FTII and now in UoH.
It's time to take stern steps to end caste based discrimination in the universities. But will the political class realize it? I guess no. They have their interests in doing politics even on the dead body of the students. That's very unfortunate