It starts with Mumbai Blasts. A certain guy called Yakub Memon helped to plan and execute the largest terror attack in the country till date, and was the only “mastermind” to be caught and tried. He was found guilty, and sentenced to hang. Many petitioned, protested, had candle light vigils etc to protest against this. Some were, no doubt, just peace lovers who hated violence. Rohith Vemula, and his campus political group, were also amongst those protesting.
It appears, however, that peace was not foremost in their minds when they did that. The slogans like “Tum ek Yakub ko marge, har ghar se Yakub niklega” seem more like violent threats than pained anguish to me. What happened later was even less pacifist. Some student leaders from another ideology came to oppose this meeting. They were roundly thrashed, and thrown out of the hostel. Not exactly how Gandhi/ Mandela defined non-violence, right? And I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty anti-national to me. Opposing death penalty, even arguing about verdict is OK, I guess. What was happening here was glorification. Glorification of a convicted terrorist, and a prayer for more terror against India. Quite astonishing, actually, but let’s gloss over that fact. Most of the media did, and still does.
So did the university. No action was taken. Not even on the fact that the beaten guy from the opposite party was in the hospital for more than a week. Yakub Memon was hanged in July. That’s when the violence happened. For several months, a series of flip flops happened as the university pretended to decide. The whole gamut from declaring innocence to a rustication. Nothing was finalised till January. This very month, Rohith finally received the last word on his punishment. He was thrown out of the hostel. That’s it.
But wait, lets backtrack. What about Bandaru Dattatreya? Dattatreya happens to be the local MP from Secunderabad. He wrote to HRD ministry in August about disturbing politics in the campus, bringing special attention to the student beaten by Rohith Vemula and gang. In september, HRD ministry asked what was happening. Presumably not much was happening, because the ministry didn’t get a reply. The ministry asked again, and again. This is the extent of “political pressure” that the media and opposition is in a frenzy about. If a letter from ministry was so big a threat, would it have gone unanswered? If the University was so scared of the ministry and the minister, would they just ignore the queries, as they did? You decide.
Well, political pressure notwithstanding, the university decided on one thing: Rohith Vemula doesn’t deserve a place in the hostel. He was allowed to attend classes, go to the library, and do his projects, but couldn’t enter the hostel. How strictly was this rule imposed? Not very strictly, I’m sure, because he ended his life inside the hostel. But Rohit was not allowed to be a resident, at least officially. So he “lived in a tent” within the campus. Let’s be clear. No one used violence against Rohith Vemula. No one was an impediment to his career. He committed suicide either because he had mental health issues, because he wanted a grand protest to shake up India, or both.
In any case, Rohith Vemula is not a “Dalit Scholar” who committed suicide. This was a political extremist. You don’t even have to take my word for it. His Facebook timeline is very clear that he doesn’t consider Dalit violence against India/ Hindus wrong. (He calls all non-dalit Hindus as Hindu. Using the same terminology here) He wanted, or at least supported an armed insurgence against capitalism.
He thought Indian Communists are too pro-Hindu (No really, he did). And he only praised one leader in his entire timeline that I could find: Owaisi. He talked about a Muslim-Dalit union overthrowing the rest in India.
Make no mistake, this was an extremist of the highest order. Remember Prashant Poojary, a Bajrang Dal activist killed in Karnataka? Rajdeep Sardesai defended not covering that event by pointing out that Bajrang Dal has a history of violence. Not Poojary himself, but his party. I don’t think he will make similar case against covering this suicide.
Yes, this was a suicide. You may try to pin it on the MP, on Ms Smriti Irani, on Modi, or on Putin, for all I care, but this was a suicide. By a guy who supported violence, and appears to have used it too. By a guy who was a rabid anti-Hindu bigot. By a guy who has given no evidence that he was targeted because of his caste, but used the victim-hood nonetheless. This was a suicide by a dangerous, probably deranged mind.
No one killed Rohith Vemula.