KOCHI: When Radhika Vemula met Rajeshwari at the Perumbavoor Taluk Hospital on Monday, it was not just a meeting of two mothers who lost their young children who later became the face of dalits’ struggle against the ‘casteist and patriarchal’ society.
It was a meeting of two survivors - of the untimely death of their children who wanted to rise above the confines society had imposed on them; of the slander in the media about their identity and life; and more importantly, of the gruelling odds they fought against as single parents to provide good education to their children.
Radhika, mother of Rohith Vemula who committed suicide in January over the discriminatory attitude of the Hyderabad University authorities, has been in the forefront of the struggle to ensure justice for her son. Rohith’s death had ignited country-wide protests, and opened up discussions about the differential treatment meted out to dalits in the country. Many activists and political observers have attributed Jisha’s murder and the initial cold attitude of the police towards the case to her identity as an inhabitant of the margins, both geographically and politically.
Radhika was accompanied by Rohith’s brother Raja and Prashanth, Zuhail and Prabhakar, student leaders at the University.