Murder of a Voice — Dalit student and leader of Ambedkar Students Association Rohith Vemula committed suicide?
Know that I am happy dead than being alive
Hyderabad, India: Scientist, activist and Ambedkar Students Association leader Rohith Vemula was found dead in a hostel room on the eve of January 17, 2016.
Police believe that he had committed suicide while his friends and students of university believe that it was a “systematic murder” and an “engineered suicide” because he was so marginalized and compelled by circumstances developed by university administration around him that he might have committed suicide. However, majority of his close friends believe he could not commit suicide and case needs deep investigation.
Dalit students have called January 19 as Protest day and a nation-wide campaign has been started to raise the voice for Dalits after the death of Rohit.
According to his close friends report that he was one of the activists on hunger strike from January 16 on the campus against the illegal and demonstrably false case framed against them by the administration.
“Rohith went out of the tent to a hostel and hanged himself, leaving a suicide note. It was at the behest of BJP leader Bandaru Datttreya, the puppet VC started persecuting these students/scholars. This scandal was exposed in the media recently too”, claim social media reports. According to local media a case has been registered against Union Minister BJP leader Bandaru Datttreya for abetting and compelling someone for committing suicide.
Rohith was one of the five student leaders who were served suspension notice recently by the University of Hyderabad’s administration. A fellow activist says it is nothing but a murder. Indeed, it is.
University students gathered at the moment at Rohith’s hostel.
One of his class fellows said in a message:
“Dalit Marxists, Rohith was the man of action while most of the rest of us are either taking a break or retired. None ever doubted for a moment that it would be Rohith who would formulate and put to practice the right and effective political paradigm on central universities in Hindutva times. He embodied the rare combination of energy, intellect, principled conception of politics and open-mind among the campus Dalit leaders”.
Students believe that one of the reasons for which Rohith and others were persecuted by the administration was that he had been seriously organising campaigns and programs to highlight persecution of, and discrimination against Muslims and worked to bring Dalits and Muslims together to combat it, on campus level. If these activists are not Dalits and their fight was not against Hindutva fascism, this false case and persecution of Dalit scholars would have attracted national and international attention and outcry.
Popular student leader Dr. Vulli Dhanaraju is devastead. He knows Rohith well and Dhanaraju says:
“This shocking action uncharacteristic of and unexpected from somebody like Rohith must be to highlight the unprecedented and unacceptable things happening on the campuses and call national and international attention to them and to shake the conscience of the public, including the Dalit faculty on campuses. He also points that though suicides of Dalits students and scholars are not unknown, it is never Dalit activists and leaders who kill themselves. It is a first, at least in a Central Institute, he says. For the veteran student leader, what Rohith has done is a supreme sacrifice and not any act of desperation. There should be a case against the criminal VC and he must be made to resign. I am unable to absorb the fact that Rohith is no more. Cannot say anything at the moment. The struggle is on. University of Hyderabad students are fighting. Support and solidarity to them. I have been arguing for a long-time that the real solution to the suicides for Dalit students on the campuses – before the ultimate solution of the end to discrimination – Dalits should own up their untouchable identity openly and proudly and take to activism as Dalits. Now, here is my own friend and dear comrade, a student leader of national standing and achievement, a bright and promising Dalit Marxist, kills himself!! It is difficult to take”.
Another student comment on Rohit death as:
My comrade Rohith Vemula has committed suicide. He was never a coward. And it is an institutional murder than a suicide. He was one of the five suspended dalt students of ASA – HCU in a fake case filed by ABVP. We worked together in SFI till he left the organization suffering the ill-treatment from a few. Even after joining Ambedkar Students Association I addressed him ‘Comrade’. On the eve of leaving SFI HCU he expressed dissent on the activities of a few in the organization who, ironically got expelled from SFI later. Each time our chats and conversations ended with a lalsalaam from me and a Jai Bheem in return. Rohith, my comrade, we fought on many things and loved for no reasons too. And I have memories to pamper and cry on.
Comrade, you were always inspiring. Grown up from a poor background, in a home at Savitribhai Nagar in Guntur where your mother brought you up by tailoring, which she continued till you got your first JRF, you have reached the heights of our hearts. You always fought. I remember the times when you hurdled to get PhD admission just because of the oppressive attitudes of beurocracy and brahminical mindsets of a few, even while having an exceptional double JRF in hand. Comrade your demise is a personal lose to me. Last time when we met you wanted to talk to me on some political issues and I couldn’t catch you back from there mainly because of my inertia to begin one. And the unspoken words haunt me now comrade. And as you mentioned in the last note, we don’t believe in afterlife or ghosts. You have one, comrade. In our hearts. UoH life will never be the same again. You will be missed comrade. eternally. And as you wished, I am sure you will reach the stars. Jai bheem comrade…!
His suspect suicide note said:
I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.
I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.
My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding 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.
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.
People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.
If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.
Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.
“From shadows to the stars.”
Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.
For one last time,
I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.
No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.
This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.
Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.
Note: Report has contributions from social media messages of several students of university including Chittibabu Padavala and Dheeraj Paleri.