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Is it right to politicize the Rohith Vemula case?

In a shocking two-day old video released by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has now gone viral, policemen in Delhi are seen brutally beating up students, who were protesting against the death of scholar Rohith Vemula. The policemen, some of whom were in plain clothes, even assaulted female protesters outside the RSS office in Jhandewalan. The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has urged the women protesters to record their statements.

The police brutality reportedly took place after the students protesting near the RSS office began marching towards the office. The police also formed a barricade outside the RSS office and soon unexpectedly began beating up the student protesters there. The protesters have said that they were protesting peacefully and did nothing that justified the lathicharge. Apart from the JNU students, there were students from other organisations at the site who were also attacked by policemen. Cops in plain clothes refused to show their ID. The police also attacked the media and some of the cameras belonging to mediapersons were also broken. However, the Delhi Police trying to shift the blame on the students said that it was the students who had provoked them. They also refused to confirm whether women protesters were beaten up. This is not the first time but Delhi police has always failed to maintained law and order situation in the state. Either it is throwing ink on Delhi CM or brutally beating students, they have always taken wrong steps.

Rohith Vemula’s suicide on 17 January, 2016 sparked protests and outrage across India and gained widespread media attention as an alleged case of discrimination against Dalits and low status caste classes in India, in which elite educational institutions have been purportedly seen as an enduring vestige of caste-based discrimination against students belonging to “lower” classes. According to the suicide note, he committed suicide in the room of one Umma Anna, in whose room he was staying after being expelled from the hostel by the authorities at the Hyderabad Central University. His death occurred after a controversy which extended over several months starting in July 2015, when the University reportedly stopped paying him the fellowship of Rs. 25,000 per month and expelled him from the hostel along with five other members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA).

ABVP activists expressed objection to Rohith’s alleged protest against the death penalty for Yakub Memon, a convict in 1993 Serial bomb blasts in Mumbai (then Bombay) in which 257 people were killed and also his condemnation of the ABVP attack on the screening of the documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’ in Delhi University. Action was taken against Rohith by college due to his involvement in an alleged attack on ABVP activist Nandanam Susheel Kumar. But according to reports, Susheel Kumar who was admitted to hospital on August 4 by his brother was operated upon for acute appendicitis on August 7.

A university official denied the allegation of non-payment of scholarship, blaming the delay on “paperwork”. Rohith’s suicide has been called an “institutional murder” by many, including Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, Sitaram Yechury of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Kavita Krishnan of Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), Dalit author and activist Meena Kandasamy. Even Rahul Gandhi of Congress and Arvind Kejriwal of AAP took active participation in Rohith death protest. If we recollect the suicide note that Vemula has written has humble request towards all mankind.

He stated that “I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first and a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense. May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding the world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past. I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.”(SIC)

On August 5, the university set up an inquiry against Rohith and four other ASA members, two days after they allegedly assaulted ABVP leader N Susheel Kumar. On August 17, a central minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to HRD Minister urging action and claiming that the “Hyderabad Central University…has in the recent past, become a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”. After a series of flip-flops, the five were suspended in September. On December 17, the decision was upheld. On January 3, after the sanction was confirmed, the five moved out of their hostel rooms to a tent they set up inside the campus and began a “relay hunger protest”. Many writers have alleged that the death of Vemula is a continuation of the long history of discrimination against Dalits which continues today, including institutions of higher learning. The poet Ashok Vajpeyi returned his D.Litt degree awarded to him by the Hyderabad Central University in protest against the circumstances which led to the death of Vemula, for which Vajpeyi holds the University culpable. His father, Manikumar has alleged that his son’s death was not a suicide and demanded a judicial inquiry.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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