Hyderabad: The suspension of five Dalit research scholars from the University of Hyderabad took a tragic turn on Sunday when one of them committed suicide.
Rohith Vemula hanged himself in his room in a hostel on Sunday evening, police said. The 28-year-old, hailing from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, was a Ph.D second year student.
I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.
I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.
May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.
People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.
If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.
Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.
“From shadows to the stars.”
Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.
For one last time,
I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.
No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.
This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.
Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.”
The research scholars were expelled from their hostel by the university in December last year following a clash with leaders of right-wing student group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). They were evicted from their rooms last Monday and since then they were forced to sleep in a makeshift tent on the campus.
Terming the suicide as a murder by right-wing groups, Dalit and leftist student groups called for closure of educational institutions in Telangana on Monday. Student groups have also announced that they will stage protests on the campus.
The suspended students and their supporters have been staging protests on the campus for the last few days. The students under the umbrella of a Joint Action Committee (JAC) termed the suspension as “undemocratic”, “social boycott” and “inhuman”.
The five students were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus except their classroom, library and conferences and workshops related to their subject of study based on the recommendations of a sub-committee of the Executive Council, based on a proctorial committee enquiry. The committee was constituted after an ABVP activist was allegedly attacked on the campus.
The suspended scholars had approached the high court against the expulsion. S. Munna, one of the expelled scholars, had said that they come from poor families and cannot afford to stay outside by paying rent.
The scholars had also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mounted on the university authorities to take action against the Dalit students who belong to the Ambedkar Students Association. They cited that union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who is a Member of Lok Sabha from Secunderabad, had written to union Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani, seeking action for “changing the campus for the better”.