What actually led to the suicide of Rohith Vemula?

New Delhi: As the whole country erupts in the protest over the suicide of a Dalit Phd scholar of the Hyderabad University, a flood of politicians are pouring in the city to draw political mileage out of the tragedy. This has added much fuel to the fire of the debate on the politicization of this issue. But is it an attempt of taking away from the bigger question, what drove Rohith to end his own life? 

The tragic incident was triggered by the ongoing conflict of two student unions of the university. The dispute escalated when the protests by Rohith and his four friends regarding the Yakub Memon hanging and hindrance to showcasing the documentary 'Muzzaffar Nagar Baqi Hai', brought them head to head against the ABVP union. This led to the intervention of Union Minister, Bandaru Dattatreya who called the protests as "anti national" and the Union HRD Ministry. The pressure by the centre led the vice chancellor to take "actions" and suspend these five students. 

The University of Hyderabad had set up many committees to investigate the tolling numbers of suicides by the dalits students of the university in the past. Report after report it was found that the backward students faced substantial amount of marginalization and discrimination in the university. The report submitted by a committee headed by Sasheej Hegde in 2014, pointed out the same shortcoming of the university and asked for the immediate action. But the stubborn attitude and constant negligence of the authorities never strived to solve this intractable problem. 

It is this kind of hostile atmosphere that led to the irrevocable step by the dalit student. The country lost an exceptionally bright and politically vocal student who wanted to be a writer like Carl Sagan. The circumstance that led to this awful incident depicts the failure of our higher education system and demands the required change in the educational policies.  

News24 Bureau

Alind Chauhan