The death of Indian “lower-caste” doctoral student Rohith Vemula has caused national outrage.
The 26-year-old, who belongs to the “Dalit” community, was found dead on Sunday evening. The University of Hyderabad student was one of the five “lower-caste” students, accused of assaulting right-wing political activists. They were suspended by university authorities.
A Facebook page dedicated to Vemula translated what appears to be his suicide note. “This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this,” the note says. “Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.”
Members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student organisation concerned, reportedly went to Federal Minister Bandaru Dattatreya who referred their case to the ministry.
“They were being beaten, assaulted in the university, there were reports of anti-social and anti-national activities,” The Guardian quoted Dattatreya as saying. “I just forwarded their representation to the ministry and don’t know what happened after that.”
Vemula’s suicide caused outrage among students in the Indian capital city of New Delhi. Police had to use water cannon to disperse student-demonstrators.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal echoed the students’ emotion in his tweet, as he asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack ministers and apologise to the nation.
“It’s not suicide. It’s murder,” Kejriwal tweeted.
It’s not suicide. It’s murder. It’s murder of democracy, social justice n equality.Modi ji shd sack ministers n aplogoize to the nation(2/2)
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 19, 2016
The HRD ministry, on the other hand, has formed a two-member team to investigate into the death of the young scholar. Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot has assured that “justice will be done.”
Gehlot, however, referred to Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Hyderabad and said no one should play politics in such cases. The chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress paid a visit to the city to express solidarity with the students who are demonstrating over Vemula’s death.
According to Tehelka.com, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi accused the Indian government of trying to turn college campuses into ABVP dens. The All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen chief said “Dalit” students faced the “worst possible” treatment.