Radhika Vemula, Dalit woman activist and mother of Rohith Vemula Wednesday urged the Bahujans across India to engage in active political life and also rule the country.
She was in University of Hyderabad to commemorate her son Rohith Vemula’s seventh death anniversary. Rohith who was a PhD scholar and Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) leader and ended his life in 2016 January after he was subjected to casteism and social boycott from varsity authorities. His death had triggered a wave of nationwide protests against caste discrimination.
On 17 January, hundreds of gathered at Rohith Stupa on the campus to commemorate Rohith Vemula. The event organised under the banner of ’Justice for Rohith Vemula’ began by garlanding Rohith Stupa. Radhika Vemula and Azad Samaj Party founder Chandra Shekhar Azad garlanded the stupa.
“Rohith is not just a name, but a symbol. He taught me a lot. Rohith plays many role, son friend, brother, fighter…,”Azad said.
“Some people are afraid of our growth, education is the tool. It didn’t stop with Rohith. The fight became visible after that,” Azad added.
Avanti, widow of Hemanth, the victim of caste killing, in her speech said that she can relate Radhika Vemula’s struggle with her struggle. “My mother-in-law is same as Rohiths mother. She also lost her son,” she said.
Dr Joby Joseph, who has been a strong pillar of support for Rohith movement in University of Hyderabad, said in his speech said that the new policies by authorities are pointing towards the dismantling of the structures, he added.
Inayavan, former president of Ambedkar Students’ Association alleged that there is no proper chargesheet in Rohith’s case and Rohith is still seeking the justice.
Dontha Prashanth, one of the iconic leaders of Rohith Movement, shared his experience and life with Rohith Vemula.
Prashanth in his speech said that no loss is greater than the loss of Rohith Vemula. He also asserted the importance of self respect and emphasised the entire history of Ambedkar Students’ Association.
“I feel liberated today. At a certain point, I have decided not to speak in this particular university because I wanted to place myself in a position that people can’t no more say that students engaged in such struggle shall not reach at higher position in both career and academia. Job is secondary and PHD submission was primary,” said Prashanth who submitted his doctoral thesis recently.
Khaki Madhava Rao, retired IAS officer in his speech said that the caste identity cannot be changed unlike other identities, which explains the fight of Rohith Vemula.
Support to students in Kerala
In their speeches, Azad and Radhika Vemula extended their support to the students of K. R. Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts in Kerala who have been protesting against the institute director’s casteism.
Radhika Vemula said that she will go there to stand in solidarity with students.
“After the death of Rohith Vemula, I consider all who have been facing such discrimination as my son. Yes! Students in KR Narayanan institute are my children,” she said.