Rohit’s Murder: An Indication of a Broader Conspiracy

The sad and sudden demise of Rohit Vemula, a research scholar from University of Hyderabad (UoH), shook the whole nation. Apart from being a brilliant scholar, who had qualified the CSIR-UGC examination twice, he was also an activist in pursuit of social change, a staunch defender of human rights, who strongly fought the inequalities and caste atrocities. Having known Rohit as someone with a strong positive attitude, it is certain that external forces have played a role in pushing him towards the unfortunate act. It is vital here to understand the course of events that took place at the University of Hyderabad in a chronological order, few months before this incident.

  • The screening of the documentary ‘Muzzafarnagar Baki Hein’ was disrupted by a hooligan mob, lead by Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) cadres, in Delhi University on 3rd of August 2014.

  • The Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) of the University of Hyderabad organized a screening of ‘Muzzafarnagar Baki Hein’ in the campus on 4th August 2014, resisting the Delhi University incident.

  • Mr. Nandanam Susheel Kumar, President of ABVP-UoH, termed ASA an organization of ‘goons’ on Facebook as a response to the documentary screening at UoH. The leaders of ASA demanded a justification of his use of the term ‘goons’ to address ASA in the presence of the security officer, Mr. Dileep Singh. The ABVP-UoH president, accepting the position that ASA students were exercising their democratic right by the screening of the documentary, promised to take back his statement and apologized in writing.

  • Soon after the apology was made, the incident took a dramatic turn. Mr. Susheel Kumar went and got admitted himself in Archana hospital at Lingampalli. He went along with his brother, Mr. Vishnu Vardhan, who is a local Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader in Lingampalli. Mr. Susheel Kumar claimed that he was physically assaulted by a ‘mob of 30 students’.

Apart from being a brilliant scholar, who had qualified the CSIR-UGC examination twice, he was also an activist in pursuit of social change, a staunch defender of human rights, who strongly fought the inequalities and caste atrocities. Having known Rohit as someone with a strong positive attitude, it is certain that external forces have played a role in pushing him towards the unfortunate act.

  • It is to be noted that the local police have also arrived at the scene. It is the duty of the local police to immediately take the victim to the local government hospital to file a medico-legal case in case if one undergoes a physical assault. This was not the case here. Susheel chose, along with his brother, to get admitted in a local private hospital.

  • Mr. Susheel Kumar filed a complaint with the Proctorial Board of UoH. The Proctorial Board in its initial report stated that “there is no hard evidence to conclusively prove that there had been physical violence”.

  • Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya, the Member of Parliament from Secunderabad and the Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on 17th August 2014. In the letter, he alleged that “University of Hyderabad has become a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national activities”. He also mentioned that MHRD has to see to it that the students of ASA are punished for allegedly attacking Mr. Susheel Kumar, President of ABVP-UoH.

  • At least 5 letters from MHRD sought an explanation from the university with regard to the action it took on the allegations by Bandaru Dattatreya. The subject of these letters reads “Anti-National activities in Hyderabad University Premises”. The details of the letters are as follows,

  1. Letter dated 10th August, 2015, to Bandaru Dattatreya written by Nandanam Diwakar Vice President, BJP, Hyderabad.
  2. Letter dated 17th August, 2015, from Bandaru Dattatreya, MoS, to Smriti Irani, MHRD, detailing his idea of 'Anti-national activities' of ASA.
  3. Letter dated 3rd September, 2015, from the Under Secretary referring to comments by Bandaru Dattatreya, MoS, for Labor and Employment.
  4. Letter dated 24th September, 2015, sent as reminder, signed by Deputy Secretary to the Govt of India.
  5. Letter dated 6th October, 2015, signed by Deputy Secretary to the Govt of India.
  6. Letter dated 20th October, 2015, signed by Joint Secretary, MHRD.
  7. Letter dated 19th November, 2015, signed by Under Secretary to the Govt of India
"The suspended research scholars were not allowed to access any space beyond their respective schools/departments/centers/library/seminars/conferences/workshops of their subject. They were also restricted to participate in Students’ Union elections, to enter hostels or administrative building and other common places in the campus."

The executive committee, which is the apex body of the university, headed by Vice Chancellor Prof. Podille Appa Rao penalised 5 research scholars, all of them belonging to the Dalit community. The punishment denied them access to hostel facility until the end of their respective courses / programmes in the university. The suspended research scholars were not allowed to access any space beyond their respective schools/departments/centers/library/seminars/conferences/workshops of their subject. They were also restricted to participate in Students’ Union elections, to enter hostels or administrative building and other common places in the campus.

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The punishments came into effect on 18th December. Rohit wrote a letter to the VC expressing his dissent over the state of affairs. The letter starts thus: “Donald Trump will be a Lilliput in front of you. By seeing your commitment, I am tempted to give you two suggestions as a token of banality.

1) Please serve 10 mg of Sodium Azide to all the Dalit Students at the time of admission with dire to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.

2) Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all the Dalit Students from your companion, the great chief warden.”

The letter ends saying “Hence, I request your highness to make preparations for the facility ‘EUTHANASIA’ for students like me. And I wish you and campus rest in peace forever”.

On January 1st 2016, the rooms of all the 5 students have been locked by the university administration. The students who were punished stayed in the shopping complex of the university, which was named Veli Vaada, meaning dalit ghettos. All the students’ organizations, excluding ABVP, protested against the administration's move to “socially boycott” marginalized students with a deliberate agenda. The protest has been going on for 14 days till January 17th, 2016, the day Rohit was deceased.

The only mistake committed by these young scholars was that they had attempted to build an alternative egalitarian society for a better tomorrow, through the principles of Ambedkar; i.e. “Educate, Agitate and Organize”.

What is more appalling in the entire incident is the use of state machinery to victimize the students from marginalized sections. There was a deliberate attempt to curtail the dissenting voices. The VC of the University,a stooge of the BJP government at the centre, has seen to it and executed the murder of Rohit Vemula for this very reason. The only mistake committed by these young scholars was that they had attempted to build an alternative egalitarian society for a better tomorrow, through the principles of Ambedkar; i.e. “Educate, Agitate and Organize”.

"Not a single ABVP cadre was punished, nor a police case was pursued by the university against the BJYM goons who entered the university with the sole intention to disrupt the peace inside the campus. This incident just forms the tip of the iceberg. Many more of such incidents can be narrated from UoH and elsewhere in the country where ABVP students were let free despite the unprecedented violence they ushered."

The MHRD or the Minister has not cared enough to comment or condemn the hooliganism of the ABVP goons in the campus. In November, 2014 the BJYM goons from outside the UoH campus, along with ABVP-UoH cadres, barged into the university to attack the students who were peacefully protesting against moral policing. The Cabinet Minister Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya did not care to intimate the MHRD or to even condemn it, despite the fact that the incident was widely reported by media. The MHRD did not ask the university about the action it took against the hooliganism led by the ABVP-UoH cadres and the then Students' Union Joint Secretary who was from ABVP. Not a single ABVP cadre was punished, nor a police case was pursued by the university against the BJYM goons who entered the university with the sole intention to disrupt the peace inside the campus. This incident just forms the tip of the iceberg. Many more of such incidents can be narrated from UoH and elsewhere in the country where ABVP students were let free despite the unprecedented violence they ushered.

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Photo Courtesy: Hindustan Times

But today, when a complaint was filed by the ABVP President of HCU, despite there being no substantial evidence, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya and MHRD were quick in seeing to it that the students from marginalised sections are victimised. The Vice-Chancellor of UoH, the Chief Proctor, who is appointed with a specific agenda to make the marginalised students vulnerable to such an extent that they end their lives, have orchestrated the ‘murder’ exactly in a way that is dictated by the BJP government under the guidance of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This is a murder that is well planned and I am sure many such plans are under process to ensure that the voices of the marginalised, especially of those against brahminical hegemony, are curtailed and ripped off as part of a broader conspiracy. After the BJP has come into power, the fringe elements and the miscreants who are fed and raised up by the RSS and Sangh Parivaar are in full swing to attack the democratic ethos of this country and to ensure that anyone going against their whims and fancies are killed. Yes, there is no doubt that Rohit Vemula is murdered like Narendra Dhabolkar or Govind Pansare or M.M. Kalburgi and there will be many more such murders.

The even more shameful act that the Sangh Parivaar has resorted to is to term Rohit as an anti-national or extremist. Don’t forget that these are the same people who took pride in Nathuram Godse - who killed MK Gandhi, Asaram Bapu - who raped a 16 year young girl in the disguise of a Godman and Swami Aseemananda - who is the prime culprit in Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blasts, Samjhauta Express blasts and Ajmer Dargah blasts which killed almost 200 innocent civilians. What can be a bigger irony than this? It is becoming increasingly evident that attempts are being deliberately made as part of a broader conspiracy to curtail dissenting voices by terming those ‘anti- national’ who do not abide by the Sangh Parivaar.