It was on January 17, 2016, a Dalit scholar from Hyderabad Central University took his own life because of the discrimination based on caste in academic space. He and his four friends from Ambedkar Students Association were suspended from the University of Hyderabad for demanding justice and equality. Student political groups, activists remembered late Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in his 5th death anniversary. Ambedkar Students Association(ASA) from various Universities organized virtual gatherings and meetups to commemorate Rohith. They have also accelerated the demand to implement Rohith Act in campuses.
Here are some of the 'suicides' which Indian campuses witnessed.
Chuni Kotal Vidyasagar
Chuni was the first woman graduate from Lodha Tribal University. She committed suicide on 16th August 1992. Chuni was unable to bear the harassment at the hands of university officials and teachers, Kotal, at the age of 27, eventually killed herself. Her death proves to be the best example of the unknown prevalence of casteism in India. Chuni was the early victim of castiest and racial harassment.
Rajani S Anand
Rajani, an engineering student hailed from Kerala had jumped from seven story building and committed suicide on 22nd July 2004 as she could not afford to pay the fees. She was a third-year computer engineering student at the Institute of Human Resource Development, Adoor, was forced to discontinue her studies in March after she defaulted on her hostel fees of Rs 1,200 a month. Debates raised over state's educational policy after her death.
Suicides in Hyderabad University is not a new phenomenon. Sentil Kumar, from Tamil Nadu who committed suicide in 2008, was the first. He was pursuing PhD in physics at the university. He was denied by a supervisor to complete his research. Senthil had taken his own life by consuming poison in hostel room. He belonged to the small 'Panniyandi' sub-caste of the Dalits known for pig-rearing.
The Vinod Pavarala committee, the committee which investigated the suicide case found that discrimination against students from marginalized sections of society was one of the main reasons for the drastic step.
Dr. Jaspreet Singh
The 22 year old, Dr Jaspreet Singh, a student of Final Year, MBBS at Government Medical College, Chandigarh. He committed suicide on 27th January, 2008, by hanging himself on the 5th floor of his college's library. The suicide note recovered from his pocket told that he took his life owing to harassment and caste related remarks made by a professor.
On March 3, 2010, Balmukund Bharti, a final-year MBBS student at AIIMS, hung himself after failing in community medicine paper in his final-year exams. He was from Kundeshwar village in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, Bharti committed suicide after he could not handle the academic pressure. His parents accused the officials in AIIMS for employing caste discrimination against Barthi. They believed it was the reason behind his suicide.
On November 24,2013, a Dalit research scholar from Hyderabad University found dead.He committed suicide by consuming poisonous substance in his hostel room. His family alleges that he was harassed by a professor of the varsity. According to his friends he was "worried over non-allotment of a guide for last three years". It was the reported fourth suicide in University of Hyderabad in 2013.
Dr. Saravanan Ganeshan
The 26-year-old, Dr. Saravanan Ganesan, an AIIMS student hailed from Thirupur,Tamil Nadu was found dead, lying on his bed in his rented South Delhi apartment on July 10, 2016.The family alleged on Saturday that Saravanan's murder was an insider's job to make a medical seat vacant. He was a victim of the intense competition to get into AIIMS.
Suicide of Anitha point figures to the loopholes of NEET examination as well as castesim. She as the daughter of a daily wage labourer. She had scored an impressive 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in class XII board examinations, but couldn't qualify for a medical college seat after she obtained 86 out of 700 in the compulsory NEET. Anitha fount against NEET and commits suicide on 1st September 2017.
Payal was another victim of casteist India.Payal Tadvi allegedly committed suicide on May 22, 2019 after facing harassment by three of her seniors at Topiwala National Medical College in Maharashtra. Her suicide pointed towards the deep-rooted caste prejudices towards Dalits in academic spaces. Supreme court has allowed the accused doctors to resume their study. This has created debate among progressive minds in India.
Fathima a 19 year old Under Graduate Humanities student at IIT Madras hailed from Kerala commits suicide on 9th November 2019. Her family alleges that she had faced religious discrimination in campus. According to the notes in her phone she had named professors for making her mentally distressed.