HYDERABAD: Ahead of the first death anniversary of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, who ended his life in a hostel room in University of Hyderabad on January 17 last year, his family, friends and members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) seeking justice for Rohith at University of Hyderabad (UOH) have been able to unify various Dalit movements that have erupted over the past one year and bring together all the prominent faces onto one common platform.
On Sunday, it was shared on social media that January 17 would be commemorated as #RohithShahadathDin. Apart from Rohith's mother Radhika, brother Raja and childhood friend Syed Riyaz, those in attendance would be the victims of Una attack Jitu Sarvaiya, Piyush Sarvaiya and Ramesh Sarvaiya; Dadri lynch-mob victim Mohammed Aklakh'sbrother Jaan Mohammed.
Also, the family of Najeeb, the Jawarharlal Nehru University student who went missing from campus after the alleged involvement of right-wing student groups there, would also be present.
On Tuesday, January 17, they plan to start the day with garlanding of Rohith's statue at the Velivada and also garlanding Rohith's portrait at all hostel lobbies. A mass gathering and remembrance rally is also scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The Dalit organistions and students’ associations will also join hands to organise 'Chalo HCU' programme at the University campus on Tuesday.
Rohit's mother Radhika Vemula and his younger brother Raja Vemula along with the members of Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) and other supporters will participate in Chalo HCU programme and will stage a protest to demand the Central government to bring a Rohith Vemula Act to stop discrimination against Dalit students in the universities.
Speaking to mediapersons, Radhika Vemula appealed students, rights activists and sympathisers to extend their solidarity by visiting HCU on Tuesday. "The University administration has denied me the permission to enter the university. Help me pay tributes at Rohith's memorial in the university campus by joining me at the entrance gate," she pleaded.
Radhika Vemula strongly opposed presentation of the Millenium Plaque to HCU vice-chancellor Apparao Podile by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Indian Science Congress held at Tirupati recently. "Instead of initiating action against the vice-chancellor and Union ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, how can the PM honour Apparao who is the prime accused in my son's suicide case, with an award," she questioned.
Gummadi Prabhakar, a research scholar at HCU, mentioned that many students from social welfare hostels and other educational institutions are approaching ASA to raise their voice against the caste discrimination towards them at their respective institutions. The association has decided to constitute committees at district level and also at universities and colleges across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to address them.
Social activist from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, has also given a call for observing January 17 at Laldarwaja in Ahmedabad seeking 'Rohith Act at any cost'.