Students of University of Hyderabad will on Thursday pay tribute to scholar Rohith Vemula on his third death anniversary.
The suicide of Vemula, a PhD scholar, on the campus had sparked nationwide protests. Opposition parties had blamed groups affiliated to the BJP and the RSS for his death.
Vemula and four others were expelled from college hostel in August 2015 after a clash with ABVP students and banned from entering parts of the college.
The five students, all members of the Ambedkar Students Association, were on a sleep-in strike since their expulsion.
The university suspended Vemula’s fellowship for raising “issues under the banner of the Ambedkar Students Association” (ASA).
On 17 January 2016, Vemula was found hanging in a hostel room with a blue banner of ASA.
In a five-page suicide note, he wrote:
“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. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
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.”
The velivada set up by Vemula on campus to protest caste discrimination by the institution, was reconstructed by ASA students on 5 January 2019 as a tribute to the scholar. It housed portraits of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and other Dalit leaders.
According to The NewsMinute, some students allege that university had removed the structure. On 7 January, the students staged protests against its removal.
Some students of University of Hyderabad and outfits under the ‘Rohith Vemula Struggle and Solidarity Committee’ banner on Monday gave a call for ‘Chalo HCU’ on 17 January against the ‘destruction’ of the portraits of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and other Dalit leaders.
A decision in this connection was taken at a round table meeting organised by the Committee, which blamed UoH Vice-Chancellor Apparao Podile for destroying the portraits on the varsity’s premises and alleged that there was continuous harassment of Dalit students on the campus.
Representatives of various student bodies and different organisations in a release condemned what they termed as ‘atrocious’ acts of the VC, demanded his removal from the post and his arrest.
“Disturbances are being created to students in order to prevent them from demanding Justice for Rohith Vemula and curb the meeting to be organised in memory of Rohith Vemula,” they said.
The students alleged that there was an undeclared emergency in the campus with continuous harassment of Dalit students fighting for justice for Rohith Vemula.
However, the University has rejected allusions to or accusations of any systematic, institutional discrimination against SC/ST students.
It also said the structure had fallen apart under weather conditions over the last three years and that some students had attempted to resurrect it with fresh flexi material.
The university has denied any destruction of portraits on the campus and said the institution holds Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Savitribai Phule, and other leaders in high esteem. Authorities said the portraits which were part of fresh flexi material being set up by a section of students in violation of university regulations were relocated for safekeeping, the statement added.
The University of Hyderabad on Tuesday said it would allow students and ‘invited speakers’ to pay tribute to the bust of Rohith Vemula on campus and hold ‘planned’ meetings at the auditorium of the varsity.
The auditoriums on the campus have been named after these leaders, and there are academic programmes in the university to promote their philosophy and thought, the varsity said in the statement.
(With PTI inputs)