If Rohith Vemula had been alive… Remembering the young spirit

In the time of danger to campus democracy and democracy of the nation as well, a tribute to the conscience of the student - Rohith Vemula- who fought for both and lost his life in turn!

rohith vemula

“I wanted to become a science writer like Carl Sagan, at last- I could write just this letter” wrote Rohith Vemula in his death note , who committed suicide four years ago on January 16, 2016. How this North Star of students’ struggle would have been, had he been alive? What would have he be doing?

His was not a suicide, but a murder orchestrated by the regime. The thirst of the regime that snuffed life out of a talented young man like Rohith Vemula is not yet quenched. That’s why this regime is conspiring to distract the downtrodden classes by bringing out black legislations like CAA, NRC and NPR, by drastically increasing education fees, by sending students to jail through false implications. What would have Rohith Vemula done if he was alive today?

“I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature”..-  wrote Rohith Vemula in his suicide letter. Today crony capitalists are trying to gobble up the entire globe and ruling governments are licking their boots. Farmers and workers are being thrown to streets, atrocities on Dalits and women are ever-increasing, minorities are being treated as second class citizens. What would Rohith be doing if he was alive today? How he would have reacted?

Rohith had opposed the suppression on Kashmiri people even before his name was known to the world. “My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.”, he had written. He had wished to eradicate caste. Because it had tormented him from birth itself. He had nothing but the pictures of Baba Saheb and Savithri Bai Phule when he was kicked out from the hostel…

He was pained about the Muslims who were burned by the communal inferno ignited by BJP, in Muzzafarnagar riots, just for the sake of coming to power in Uttar Pradesh. That’s why he had arranged to show the documentary “Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai” and discussion on it at Hyderabad Central University. ABVP had then objected to that and had a row with Rohith Vemula.

“As an Ambedkarite, I deeply condole the deaths of the BSF soldiers who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Punjab as well as those six people who lost their lives in the earthquake in Manipur”, he had written in his Facebook account on January 06, 2016, just ten days before his demise. Fake patriotic ABVP goons took revenge on such true patriotic lad, who loved his people from the heart.

He had bitterly condemned the attack on Christians in Kandhamal and exposed the exploitation of people in the name of “Acche Din”. He longed for not only campus democracy but, democracy in the entire society. That’s why he had quoted Alice Walker on his Facebook account-  “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet”.

Safdar Hashmi had been murdered by the proponents of violence, while he was performing a street play on January 2, 1989.  “We have lost a beautiful performer and a brave soul”, he had written remembering the incident. How would he have reacted to CAA and NRC, of the present regime, if he was alive?

I am absolutely sure- if had he been alive he would have been the leader to all of us. He would have organised lakhs of people with his love and fought against those, who seek to divide people in the name of religion. He would have called for the eradication of casteism. He would have fought to retain the secular fabric of our Nation. He would have fought against superstitions and propagated science like Carl Sagan.

Rohith was haunted by his caste. During his Ph.D., ABVP goons put false charges on him and with the help of the brahminical administration of the university withheld his scholarship for seven months and banished him from college and hostel. He had begun his fight at campus ‘Velivada’, just holding pictures of Ambedkar and Savitri Bai Phule. He didn’t get any support then. and he was alone in his fight. The regime took his life.

Today, we see the vicious design to isolate the minorities and victimise them. Would Rohith Vemula, be silently watching all this, if he was alive?

Friends, if we wish to secure justice for Rohith Vemula, we have to take his place and continue his fight. We have to join the fight being waged on the streets- for jobs, for fare and scientific price for the farmers, for respectable life for the downtrodden. We have to join the fight against CAA and NRC, on priority. These legislations are not just a conspiracy against the Muslims, but also to deprive all marginalised communities of their democratic rights. Besides participating in this fight, we have to go to the villages, slums, and Adivasi areas and talk to the people.

Though Rohith Vemula is physically not with us, we must not forget that we breathe his spirit. Let thousands of Rohith Vemulas speak. Will history forgive us if we don’t stand up and fight for the downtrodden. Come! Join the fight and consolidate students’ unity on Rohith martyrdom day on the 17th of this month.

Muttu Raju is a student activist. Views are personal. 



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May 2024


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