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India: Dalit scholar’s suicide: Can India ever get over its caste prejudices?

Monday 18 January 2016, by siawi3

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Hyderabad/Expelled-dalit-scholar-commits-suicide-in-University-of-Hyderabad/articleshow/50616421.cms

The Times Of India

Expelled dalit scholar commits suicide in University of Hyderabad

Preeti Biswas | TNN | Jan 17, 2016, 10.13 PM IST
(Pic curtsey Facebook)

Hyderabad: In a tragic incident, Rohith Vemula, one of the five dalit scholars expelled by the University of Hyderabad (UoH) last year, committed suicide on Sunday by hanging himself at a hostel.

Rohith, 25, a resident of Guntur, was doing his PhD in science technology and society studies for the past two years, before the scholar allegedly got involved in a tiff between two student groups in August last year.

The UoH administration ordered a probe and the final decision by the proctorial board led to the expulsion of Rohith along with four others.

The administration apparently barred the scholars’ entry into the administrative building, hostels, libraries, mess and other common areas, leading to massive protests by students, who even formed a Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JAC).

The PhD scholar had been sleeping in the open along with other expelled students for the past two weeks, demanding reinstatement.

While the JAC went on an indefinite strike on Sunday against the proctorial board’s decision, sources said that Rohith discreetly went to the NRS hostel, locked himself in a room and committed suicide.

He was a student leader in the Ambedkar Students Association and was an active member in various activities related to the dalits.

When TOI contacted Appa Rao Podile, the vice-chancellor, he expressed shock and grief over the incident.

"I am shocked over the extreme step taken by the scholar. I did speak to the scholars a few days back on this issue. However, I had no clue that he will take such a step," said Podile.

The students, however, blamed the administration for pushing the scholar for taking such a step. "It is due to the administration’s ignorance towards students’ issues which forced Rohith to take such a step. We hope at least now the administration wakes up to dalit issues and takes revokes its decision," said S Munna, co-convenor of ASA in UoH.

With Rohith’s suicide, students now plan to intensify their protest against the administration and the BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya who wrote to the MHRD and allegedly forced the university to expel the dalit scholars.

.Arun Khote
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of “Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC”)