The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit research scholar at the University of Hyderabad on Sunday had triggered social and political debates and discourses across the country bringing the focus on to the dark realities of the lives of the ostracized lower class community.
Assuming that this is only because of media activism might be because of perceiving lightly, the caste discrimination, the social evil that has gripped the nation for centuries. The nation has realized that Rohith, a bright and intelligent student doing his PhD hanged himself to death even before embarking on the journey of life because he was unable to bear the injustice faced due to the evil casteism. The incident also reminds us that even while the nation celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of India’s Constitution, our country is on the verge of severe social misery due to casteism. Protests, demanding the resignation of the Ministers and University authorities involved, to take up the moral responsibility of Rohith’s suicide, are rampant across the nation today. But those like Smriti Irani, the Minister of Human Resource Development are trying to soften the gravity of the issue by stating that it was being highlighted as a caste-based issue due to bad intentions. Rohith’s death is the end of the struggle of conscience against the cruelty of the system. The letter he wrote before committing suicide saying that his birth was a ‘fatal accident’ might be due to the bitter injustice he faced since birth. The fact that the pain and the misery laid down by the life circumstances for the Dalits in India as well as the blacks in America and Africa couldn’t be rectified through education or employment is being reiterated frequently.
Its Ambedkar’s foresight that freedom was a meaningless promise before the Dalit community as long as racism and casteism existed in the society that Rohith, who led the Ambedkar Students Association, proved with his suicide. Within the last five years, ten Dalit students from the University alone have ended their lives. Add to this that the tragic incident took place at a University that was instituted the award for the country’s best University last year by the President. The reality that the killings and martyrdom created as the by-product of the bigoted mentality that the ostracized backward classes do not deserve education, have led to a volatile atmosphere in the campuses, do not make sense to people merely because the Ministers deny it through press conferences. Anil Kumar Meena, a first-year Dalit student at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India's premier medical college, hanged himself from the ceiling fan of his hostel room in March 2012. The concerned authorities refused to admit that it was again the brutality of the system that shattered him to end his life.
More shocking tales of shameful discrimination and neglect faced by the Dalit-minority students in the campuses are being brought to light after the incident. Rohith faced the fury of the University authorities and the ruling party eventually leading to his tragic death only because he refused to bow down before ABVP, the student wing of BJP. The light of education alone wasn’t sufficient for Rohith’s political ideology of Ambedkarism to resist the Hindutwa majority led by the elite. The decisions lie with the powerful. The discriminatory atmosphere at the University and the unempathetic attitude of the Vice Chancellor and the lecturers even in a democratic country like India are what prompted Rohith to take his life. The incident took place when the Modi government was planning projects to politically exploit the Dalits by organizing Ambedkar’s grand birth anniversary celebrations. Time will surely prove the foolishness in believing that the nation would develop and progress by always enslaving a community.