Hyderabad: At Hyderabad Central University, there is anger after a 26 year-old research scholar, thrown out of the hostel two weeks ago, was found hanging on Sunday evening. Rohith Vemula, a research scholar at the Hyderabad Central University, wrote in an alleged suicide note, “Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive”.
A group of students sat with his body all night, raising slogans and demanding the removal of the Vice Chancellor. A police team came this morning, arrested eight students and took away the body, sparking more intense protests. Rohith, who was completing his doctorate, had been living in a tent outside the campus gates for days, along with four others who had also been denied access to the hostel.
The five Dalit scholars, who were members of the Ambedkar union, had been accused of attacking an activist of the BJP-linked Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP in August, allegedly during a protest against the execution of 1993 Bombay blasts convict Yakub Memon. The university cleared them in an initial inquiry, but reversed its decision allegedly after union minister Bandaru Dattatreya wrote to Education Minister Smriti Irani.
In his letter dated August 17, Mr Dattetreya alleged that the university had become a “mute spectator” to the attack on an ABVP activist and “has become a den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.” On December 21, the five students were allegedly barred from the hostel, the mess and most common areas except their classroom and research lab. Their friends have alleged that they suffered social boycott.
According to Rohith’s friend Venkat, he was “heartbroken” that his requests for an appointment with the Vice Chancellor had been ignored even though he had been living in the open for days. ”Even Dalit professors who came to meet us supported the Vice Chancellor rather than us,” Rohith reportedly told Venkat on Sunday morning. Hours later, he allegedly went quietly into a hostel room and hanged himself. “Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing,” he wrote in his suicide note.