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The Curious Cas(t)e Of Rohith Vemula

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Views Article The Curious Cas(t)e Of Rohith Vemula

On 20 January 2016, The Times of India carried a report that revealed that the youth who had committed suicide at the Hyderabad Central University, Rohith Vemula, was from the Vaddera caste, a community of stone-cutters notified among Other Backward Classes in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Finally, this year, it was proven conclusively he was not a Dalit.

Earlier, Vemula’s alleged tormentor, Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya had turned out to be another OBC, a Telugu-speaking Yadav. Vice Chancellor of the university concerned, Appa Rao Podile, is not a Brahmin either. So why is almost the entire media projecting the incident as a Brahmin-versus-Dalit issue?

There are several other important factors that neither the opposition nor the media seemed interested in. Why did the suicide note read like musings rather than the outpouring of a distressed mind? Why did Vemula not blame anybody in the note? Why don’t our colleges have psychological counsellors, given that the age group of students is generally associated with excitability and proneness to taking extreme measures?

Vemula’s story had actually got more intriguing a month after his death. I cannot imagine entering a room and finding a friend dead, who has apparently committed suicide, and policemen all over the place, and then taking out my camera phone, as some friends of Rohith Vemula did, to film the whole sequence!

Even in course of significant meetings with politicians and heads of different administrations, I hesitate to ask someone to take a photo, as it lessens the gravity of the situation. And here is the scene of death of a close friend and the supposed friends of the dead boy have the inhumanity to shoot the ceiling fan, the hanging bed sheet, the body and the ambience of the room! This awkward but real scene was played on national television for two days.

It was not a police video of the spot of crime. Such filming happens for nothing but political reasons. Or, when it is a trap. It happens when the script of the death is predetermined.

Vemula might not have committed suicide. There is now a high probability of foul play.

The affair begs a sociological question. Why are Ambedkarite Buddhists so alienated from the Hindu mainstream when internationally Buddhists acknowledge Hinduism to be their origin? Why does nobody expose the fact that the ilk of Kancha Ilaiah is funded by Christian missionaries?Why doesn’t the BJP/RSS/ABVP field its Dalit and OBC spokespersons to defend itself on such occasions?

Are we supposed to look the other way when terrorists are celebrated as icons and heroes if the activists belong to a certain caste or community?

While individuals are expected to turn politically conscious in youth, is it necessary for student unions to be associated with political parties? Is trade union-like belligerence in students warranted at all? Why shouldn’t unionism be banned in all educational institutions, as they vitiate the atmosphere of learning?

Finally, why does the media not gang up for Malda as it ganged up for Dadri and Hyderabad?

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
The founder of Sirf News has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life and columnist in various newspapers and magazines, writing in English as well as Hindi. He was the national affairs editor of Swarajya, 2014-16. He worked with Hindusthan Samachar in 2017. He was the first chief editor of Sirf News and is now back at the helm after a stint as the desk head of MyNation of the Asianet group. He is a mathematician by training with interests in academic pursuits of science, linguistics and history. He advocates individual liberty and a free market in a manner that is politically feasible. His hobbies include Hindi film music and classical poetry in Bengali, English, French, Hindi and Urdu.

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