Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tragic death of Chakravarti Rohit Vemula

Communalism, Politics and Suicide in the Centre of Higher Learning.
Chakravarti Rohit Vemula (26), a PhD student, a Dalit, along with other Dalit students takes a lead in staging a play 'Muzaffarnagar Abhi Baaqi Hain' about six months ago in the Campus of Hyderabad Central University, Hyderabad, Telangana. ABVP - Unit of HCU leader Sushil Kumar objects/demonstrates to the show stating it is anti national and would cause communal disturbances. Ambedkar Students Association staged a demonstration agains ABVP on 3rd August 2015. On 4th August ABVP leader complains that he has been attacked by Dalits, the Enquiry Committee odered by the then VC did not find any evidence of physical attack. Subsequently, Dalit group has been complaining of harassment by the ABVP group and the ABVP group insisting on taking action against Dalit group for the "attack" on their leader. Rohit even met former UGC Chairman,Sukhdev Thorat, a Dalit, seeking help, the latter in turn met Central Social Welfare Minister Ghelot, who in turn wrote to Telangana CM, for a report.
Now, the new Vice Chancellor, Professor Podile Appa Rao takes over. ABVP puts pressure on the new VC to take action against the "attackers". The Union Minister hailing from the region, Bandaru Dattatreya writes to HRD Minister to take action on the "attackers", the letter was forwarded to the University. VC, without conducting any further enquiry, and although earlier enquiry did not find any evidence of physical attack, takes the matter to the highest decision making Body, Executive Council of the University, which resolved to suspend the five Dalit students including Rohit prohibiting them to enter Hostel, to participate in Student Elections and to enter Common places such as Administrative Offices. !2 days later Rohit committed suicide by hanging in his friend's room. HRD Minister, Smriti Irani has ordered a probe whose report is expected any time now.
However, in the suicide note written by Rohit just before death makes no mention of any of the above events. In fact, the death note is more a philosophical and intensely psychological with literary infuse than anything else of the campus events. He wrote about his experience of vacuum, silence, meaninglessness and his forlornness childhood.Yet, we cannot rule out the impact of campus events on his death: he fought, complained and perhaps realised the futility of it all, and more particularly,the experience of helplessness and hopelessness against things around over which he has no control. The man who could experience consciously such an existential crisis is indeed a great human fund of creativity with an ability to reach the higher reaches of human endeavour. It is indeed a great tragedy that we lost him.
University authorities must be extremely cautious while taking drastic action on young students in the campus. They should be free from partisan attitude and political involvement and any drastic action against growing youth must be
based on verifiable evidence and objective consideration. Otherwise, we would
be causing irreparable damage for the rest of the student's life.

5 comments:

Prof.B.Harishchandra Bhat said...

The deathnote looks like he has a disturbed mindset and frustrated. Student Counseling is required in such cases.Normally such students confide in close friends or trusted teachers. That such a process was not to be in the Central University is tragic. He did not get solace from any quarters including his friends who were associated in the struggle earlier!The system failed him.

Prof.B.Harishchandra Bhat said...

The deathnote looks like he has a disturbed mindset and frustrated. Student Counseling is required in such cases.Normally such students confide in close friends or trusted teachers. That such a process was not to be in the Central University is tragic. He did not get solace from any quarters including his friends who were associated in the struggle earlier!The system failed him.

Mathew Pm said...

I fully agree with the view that"University authorities must be extremely cautious while taking drastic action on young students in the campus.".Lack of proper support system is a major lacunae in many colleges and universities in India.Un-qualified and under-qualified Counselors are incapable of managing many complicated cases. What can an MSW or a certificate holder in counseling can do in dealing with the real problems that require a professional,mature holistic approach.We need to have a pool of highly trained professionals for the task with at least a solid Masters degree in counseling.Also college administrators and teachers should have a mature approach in dealing with student problems.

Mathew Pm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G P Naik said...

If Vemula Rohit had not died
I do not know why did Vemula Rohit hanged himself at the University of Hyderabad. Without attributing the motives for his death, let us assume that he is still alive, and examine whether he was meted out injustice, by the Government and the University.
1) If five dalit students had assaulted the ABVP student leader, then it is a criminal case and the police should have taken action. Why did the police kept quite?
2) How was the presence of these five dalit students in the hostel became a threat when they were not a threat in the class room, library and in the entire university campus?
3) When there is allegation of physical assault against five dalit students, why did the High Court asked the University to take action rather than asking the police to book the case against dalit students.
4) When ABVP leader Sushil Kumar is the root cause of this incident, why did his mother approached High Court rather than counselling her son?
5) Staging a play like 'Muzaffarnagar Abhi Baaqi Hain' is the fundamental right of any citizen subject to reasonable restrictions. If playing this drama is illegal, then police should have taken action against dalit students. Why did the ABVP leader Sushil Kumar took law into his hands and caused this entire chain of tragic events.
6) Why did the the High Court which delivered undue justice to ABVPs Sushil Kumar, did not protect the fundamental right of dalit students for staging a drama.
7) If Smriti Irani, Bangaru Dattatreya and Appa Rao are honest, why are they not revealing the written correspondence among them in this regard.
8) If Smriti Irani is honest why did she formed the fact finding committee after the death of the student, rather than doing so earlier to avert this tragedy.
9) If ABVP is not anti-dalit, then why are they not helping the dalits in trouble?