HYDERABAD: The first death anniversary of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar who committed suicide last year, was observed with slogans and chants with victims of the atrocities from across the nation in attendence and used the opportunity to share their experience.
Jaan Mohammad, the brother of Mohammad Akhlaq who was lynched on suspicion of having beef in his fridge in Dadri saluted Rohith’s mother Radhika, who has travelled and participated in Dalit protests over the past year. “In my house nobody even slaughters a chicken but some anti-social elements placed it (meat) in our fridge. It was scandal. The accused say they found beef, even police didn’t say they found beef... It is neither yours nor mine, the country is ours,” he said.
The survivors of the public attack in Una and their family members, who attended, said that they had joined the protest as justice to them was delayed. In July 2016, seven members from a Dalit family were lynched by cow protection vigilantes in Una. “We have come here to fight as justice is delayed,” said Jeetu Sarvaiya, cousin of Ramesh who survived the attack.
Also present was Fathima Nafees, mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed and students from Jawaharlal Nehru University that was rocked by controversy over alleged chanting of “anti-national slogans” in 2016.
Dontha Prashant, an Ambedkar Student Association leader and one of the scholars who had faced disciplinary action along with Vemula, protested at the gates of the university from morning and was later seen pleading with police to allow the Rohith’s family to pay their respects at the stupa.
“When I went to meet Radhika amma in morning, she was in a lot of pain. She said they killed my son, now they are after me and that they are pushing her towards a state of resignation. Today, Radhika’s words are a reminder that if we don’t stand with her, we will be responsible for losing another Rohith. The government has awarded institutional murderer Appa Rao,”he said.
“There won’t be a 2-minute silence, there should be noise until we get justice. Until we don’t get justice, be it V-C Appa Rao or govt authority, we will fight against them,” said Rahul, one of the suspended students from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), Jawaharlal Nehru University.
He said that Rohith has left the world, but has surely awakened Dalits. “We looked at the data of five years of marks allocation in viva, we found that Dalit students don’t score beyond 10 or 15. Committee said there is discrimination in viva. When the council agreed to decrease viva weight age we agreed. When a Dalit or minority student performs so well in written exam, why are you giving him mere single digit or 10 marks in viva? We received sudden Firmaan after council meet saying that we are suspended.”