To mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide, several academicians and activists participated in a seminar on “caste-based atrocities in higher educational institutions” organised by the University of Hyderabad’s student union.
“I am going to say that it was an institutional murder,” begins Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson in the video above. “And 70 years after Independence, the unfortunate thing is that the University is unable to protect the lives of Dalit children who are marginalised. It is the systematic plan of people who are ruling in this country. There is a very clear understanding among them, they are afraid of the Dalits and the marginalised who are coming to the universities.”
Wilson’s anger becomes palpable as the talk progresses. “We should not think that it has started now,” he tells the gathered crowd of students. “If it has started today then it should not be a fact that 1.6 lakh Dalit women are cleaning the human excreta in the country even now. The prime minister will talk about the GDP, MDP, ADP, whatever it may be. But even three years after his rule, people are still carrying human excreta.”
The activist also harshly criticised the government’s handling of the investigation following the suicide which evoked massive protests at Hyderabad University. “If they really believed in equality, then the government would have launched a proper investigation as to what led to the death of Rohith Vemula,” Wilson said. “Contrary to that, they completed twisted the case. They made it about which caste he belongs to, which is a complete drama.”
Wilson also took aim at the broken promises made by the government. “Many people came and promised a lot of things last year but nothing has happened so far. Rohith’s brother, who completed MSc in Geology is now running an auto-rickshaw in his town. His mother Radhika is afraid to send him to any university. The vice-chancellor must feel ashamed to have not protected the rights of Rohith’s family,” he said.