On 18th of January massive student gathering organised by several organisations, demanding justice for deceased Rohit Vemula(Research Scholar from HCU) at the office of HRD Ministry, New Delhi, were countered with water cannons in the chilling cold weather of Delhi. Imposing the gruesome cruelty on the protesters is a new method adopted by the Centre. Courtesy goes to NDA regime.
Yesterday, it was a day of mourning for every vigil and the concerned Indian, it was a day of deep introspection, it was a day to wake and look, where we have reached! Prime Minister was posting photos of ‘flower shows’ from Gangtok on his Facebook wall amidst roaring #OccupyHCU issue.
It’s been 90 days of struggle to restore non-NET fellowship which our government has removed meticulously to block off the way to the poor, unprivileged, backward, dalits and minorities to reach higher education. Late Rohit Vemula had crossed such a hurdle to reach his goal; he was an UGC-JRF beneficiary. Misusing his power and targeting the dalit students from HCU, Union Minister Mr Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to MHRD accusing Hyderabad University “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.” Which in other words means that the students refused to bow down to supremacy of Bramanical elite. As a result it led to the suspension of five dalit research scholars and ultimately the suicide of Rohit Vemula.
At the policy level govt have paved the way for WTO to invest in higher education, thus ensuring Education to the elite class only.
Rohit was a research fellow in Science, Technology and Society Studies. Son of a wage labourer, his mother was helplessly demanding justice and explanation for her son’s death. With irresponsible attitude from MHRD and the Govt at Centre, this issue seems to be a trivial matter for them. Rohit who aspired to touch the stars, has now started fading away.
MHRD has sent two officials to HCU to look into these matters, only to meet the mounting pressure from the public space. Let us be assured that all the report will turn out to be in favour of the Govt at the Centre. Number of committees will only be formed, clustered up and silently disappear.
Police report says that the case has been booked against Union Minister Mr Bandaru Dattatreya, under the SC-ST prevention of atrocities act. It has also filed an FIR against the Vice Chancellor Mr P. Appa Rao, who without proper investigation ostracized the research scholars (willingly or due to the pressure from BJP, or both, line is blur). Susheel Kumar, ABVP leader who had described Dalit students as ‘goons’ on his Facebook wall is also booked along with one of his scouts.
Rohit Vemula in his last letter requested his funeral to be silent and smooth, however hundreds of cops in anti-riot gear were deployed during his post-mortem and last rites. They held back the public from getting close to the vicinity.
Massive protests are taking place in major campuses of country, demanding complete justice for Rohit, removal of involved minister from cabinet & Vice Chancellor of UoH and other officers found guilty. Resignation of MHRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani was also sought on the basis that she was neither able to understand nor control the situation of an institution which is under direct observation under her ministry.
This protest must take the form of nationwide campaign to fight the atrocities of caste, creed, colour and language. We all must unite together to put an end to this supremacist, hegemonic, exploitative, brahminical power & mental state. Life of Rohit Vemula, our beloved brother, our fellow struggler, our very own student freedom fighter must not go in vain. Was Dr B.R Ambedkar right when he said to Gandhi, “I have no homeland, no untouchable worth the name would be proud of this land.”
Expressing condolence to Rohit Vemula’s death, we need to contemplate at his last words written in his letter,
“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.”