It Has Been A Year Since Rohith Vemula Died, Voices For Justice Still Unheard

By Rishabh Raj

Students and activists gathered at UoH to commemorate the death anniversary of Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula.


Rohith Vemula
Rohith Vemula

It has been a year since Rohith Vemula died, students protested demanding justice for him, authorities of the University tried to supress their voices, many unfortunate events unfolded since then. But the voices of struggle still resonate in the ears of authorities who are still fearful of the unity of struggle that they are compelled to continue supressing it with full might.

Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student at the University, had killed himself last year on January 17, allegedly due to harassment from the University management.

Students have staged protests all over the country on the first death anniversary of Vemula. Hyderabad Central University witnessed a mass upsurge for commemorating Vemula’s death anniversary. Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohit Vemula; Jaan Mohammed, brother of Mohammed Akhlaque, who was lynched by an angry mob in Dadri on suspicion that he stored beef at his house; Fatima Nafees, mother of the dsappeared Najeeb Ahmed; and the survivors of the Una flogging were invited to join the commemoration.

Rahul Gandhi meets Rohith's Mother
Rahul Gandhi meets Rohith’s Mother

But before people could gather together, they had to face the wrath of the authorities of University. Security was tightened at the main gate since morning, restrictions were imposed on the entry for outsiders in the campus, students and staffs were allowed only after producing their identity cards.

The Registrar issued a circular stating that outsiders including media persons, politicians and activists cannot enter the campus. University authorities also made it clear that no permission was granted to hold any programme in the campus.

Defying all these hurdles, protestors barged into the campus holding placards and pictures of Rohith, and surrounded themselves around a stupa that has been erected since Rohith’s death. Slogans were raised to demand the enactment of Rohith Act and the arrest of Appa Rao, the Vice Chancellor of UoH.

The day did not end here, Police detained several activists and journalists including Radhika Vemula. They were detained under section 151 of the CrPC.

Year 2016 had witnessed an upsurge in student activism, beginning with the demand for justice of Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, stretching along to the continued struggle for defending the culture of debate and dissent against the allegations of “anti-India” slogans carried out inside the premises of J.N.U., till the efforts to solve the mystery of Najeeb Ahmed’s disappearance from J.N.U.

This has nearly become a daily routine, people gathering around for some cause and government using police force to suppress the protests. Despite continuous attempts to suppress the voices demanding justice, the fire inside the angry protestors is still alive.

This fire needs to stay alive,
To burn every tyrant to ashes.

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