The tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, a research scholar of Hyderabad Central University, has sparked a nation wide protest. Rohith Vemula was participating in an indefinite day and night dharna along with four other fellow students protesting against their savage persecution by the University authorities.
Students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU),Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), All India Students Association (AISA),Mumbai Students Solidarity Front(MSS), “Justice for Rohith – Joint Action Committee, Mumbai”, IIT, Bombay, Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Nirmala Niketan College, Siddharth College, Government Law College, Ruparel College, St. Xavier’s College, International Institute of Population Sciences, Vivekananda College, Ambedkar College, and many others have extended their support to the students of the University of Hyderabad. Rohith as well as several students who were targetted were active members of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA). These students and Rohith in particular were targeted because they boldly propagated their political and social views, exposed the discrimination against Dalit students by the authorities, and the humiliation these student faced. Among other issues, the ASA had condemned the attack on the screening of the documentary ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’ (which brings out the role of the authorities in organising the communal massacres in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in 2013) In September 2015, the University authorities suspended Rohith and his fellow activists on trumped up charges. When the students exposed the trumped up nature of the charges and defended themselves, the university authorities had to revoke the suspension. However this did not end the persecution of these students.
Following the intervention of two ministers in the Central government, and the repeated demand by one of them for action against the students for allegedly participating in “anti-national” activities, the university authorities once again suspended the five students, including Rohith, on
January 13 and asked them to vacate their hostel. The students then began their indefinite protest highlighting the persecution by the authorities for their views.
The agitating students of Hyderabad Central University and other campuses across the country have charged the university authorities and the Central ministers with persecuting the students for their views, as well as creating the circumstances that drove Rohith to commit suicide. It has come to light amongst other things that Rohith’s monthly fellowship stipend of Rs. 25,000 had not been paid to him since July 2015, causing his family serious financial hardship.
The youth and students all over the country are extremely angry at the targeting and harassment of students by the authorities. People are targeted for expressing views that are different from or question the views of the authority. People are being branded “Anti-National” when they exercise their democratic rights. Spark condemns the attack on right to conscience and supports the fight of the students and youth of the University of Hyderabad.
Spark supports the fight of the students and youth for the right to dissent and the right to conscience. Spark firmly believes that no one should be able to violate these rights.
– Spark Team