Protests condemning the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a research scholar from Hyderabad Central University (HCU), seem to be spreading like wildfire across premier educational institutes in the country, including Mumbai.
After boycotting their lectures, students and research scholars gathered on campus as a mark of protest
While students and research scholars at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) boycotted lectures and gathered on campus as a mark of protest yesterday, the act of protest will be emulated tomorrow by the students from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai University and its affiliated colleges.
Protestors claimed that Vemula’s death was not a suicide, but an institutional murder and those responsible for it should be punished — starting from the HCU officials to politicians — who forced the research scholar to take the drastic step by labelling him and four others as ‘anti-national’, ‘extremist’, and ‘casteist’ elements.
Speaking to mid-day, Ajmal Khan, a student from TISS said, “This isn’t a suicide, but an institutional murder. We want action to be initiated against those responsible for it. The chain of events started in August 2013 after a Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) member in the same university put up a derogatory status update on Facebook against the Ambedkarite Students Association, (ASA) and culminated in the expulsion of five research scholars and death of Rohith. It brings to the fore the malicious and casteist role played by the Hindutva brigade led by the ABVP and BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao, who termed Dalits as ‘anti-national’, as well as the complicity of the HCU administration through their inept handling of the situation. We also demand immediate release of students who protested outside the HCU following the incident.”
Abhilasha Shrivastava, Maharashtra coordinator for All India Students Association (AISA) said, “AISA expresses solidarity with family and friends of Rohith Vemula in this tragic and sad incident. This is just an addition to the endless list of political victimisation of the dissenting voices of students. The list is endless.” It is the AISA, which has coordinated and organised protests at various institutes across Mumbai.
Commenting on the events organised at the IIT-B, General Secretary Sarthak Agarwal said, “A small event was organised to express solidarity, wherein posters were prepared in support of Vemula and other students. Also, candles were lit in his memory.”