“The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility… Never was a man treated as a mind, as a glorious thing made up of stardust….. I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty”. (From Rohith’s suicide note)
Rohit Vemula Chakravarthi, Ph.D Scholar (Science, Technology and Society Studies) was a student of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) a premier institute. He was a bright student and had got his admission under the general quota and not under reservation even though he belonged to the Dalit community. He wanted to be a writer of Science as Carl Sagan.
He was also passionate about social justice and democratic issues and actively involved with the Amebedkar Students’ Association (ASA). In the Year 2015 August Mr. Sushil Kumar another Ph.D Scholar of the same University and President of Akhila Bharathiya Vidyaparishad (ABVP), student wing of BJP complained against 5 members of ASA including Rohit to the VC on small altercation that took place between these two groups. The university constituted a committee to look into the matter and cleared them of the charges.
But the University Authorities reversed its decision in December 2015 and expelled the 5 dalit students from the university and hostel. This prompted Rohit and his associates to live on the street from January 1st 2016 onwards and they started protesting against the decision of the VC. Rohit was also not paid his JRF (Junior Research Fellowship) for over seven months amounting to Rs.1.75 lakhs. On a letter from the BJP MP, Mr. Bandaru Dattathreya , the MHRD pursued the university to take action against the students for the alleged altercation with the ABVP students. The High Court of Telangana also put pressure on the university on the basis of a complaint filed by the ABVP student leader. Against this background, Rohit committed Suicide on January 17th, 2016 leaving a suicide Note. His death and his suicide note have brought out the struggle he faced owing to his Dalit background in the university and since his childhood. This has erupted into massive Dalit students protests across the nation with solidarity from a wide spectrum of student organizations, teachers and other civil society organisations.
Rohits Mother, his brother and sister are demanding the following
The students are demanding
The civil society demands.