MANY students of the University of Hyderabad pledged on 16th January to fight for justice to Rohith Vemula and keep alive memories of the PhD student whose campus suicide two years ago triggered nationwide outrage. The Justice for Rohith Vemula, a committee of students and faculty members, observed Rohith Shahadat Day — martyrdom day — on January 17 and held a convention at the university auditorium to discuss issues such as discrimination against Dalits.
“The university authorities, the Centre and the state government might have thought the Rohith episode was a closed chapter. So long as the issues for which he attained martyrdom remain, his memories will continue to haunt the university and government,” said Dontha Prashant, a leader of the Ambedkar Students Union, at the university.
He and Vemula were among five research scholars the university suspended and expelled from their hostel in August 2015 on a complaint by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which accused them of assaulting some of its leaders. The expulsion is believed to have driven Vemula to die by suicide in his hostel room in January 2016. Under pressusre from the students this time the authorities allowed seven scholars from outside including Kancha Eliah to participate in the Convention. Many programs were organized on 17th January in memory of Rohit Vemula and pledging to continue the struggle for academic freedom and for casteist oppression.