HYDERABAD: Had he been alive, Rohith Vemula would have turned 28 today. A day before Rohith’s birth anniversary, social activist and writer Harsh Mander, on Sunday, termed University of Hyderabad’s reaction post Rohith’s suicide as ‘incredibly insensitive’.
The writer also made a reference of the January 17 incident, when the university did not allow Rohith’s mother Radhika Vemula to enter the university on his first death anniversary.
The noted activist was speaking on his book ‘Fatal Accidents of Birth’ on the concluding day of Hyderabad Literary Festival. The book’s title has been borrowed from Rohith’s suicide note, in which he had written, “My birth is my fatal accident.”
Mander said he decided to write the book after having a conversation with Rohith’s closest friend from Guntur, Riyaz Sheikh. “Being a Muslim, it was not difficult for Riyaz to understand the persecution Rohith must have faced as a dalit, he added.
The writer also remembered his heart-wrenching conversation with Radhika, wherein she had told him that she worked all her life to ensure that her sons Rohith and Raja study in a university. However, after Rohith’s suicide she is happy that Raja, a post graduate from Pondicherry University is now working as an auto driver rather than being in a university.
Raising a demand for a change in the electoral system, he said the present one has been bypassing a majority of India’s population and has always betrayed the poorest of the country.
An interesting point in the interaction came when Mander drew three similarities between the US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The activist pointed out that both of them harp on prejudices and amplify them. The second similarity, he said, was that both harp on ‘moral inversion’ wherein the persecuted are portrayed as persecutors. The third was the use of coarse language in their discourses, he said.