Picket Indian Consulate in Birmingham
1 pm Saturday 13th February 2016
20 Augusta Street
Justice for Rohith Vemula
Rohith Vemula was compelled to take his own life on 17 January 2016.
He was led to despair by the officials at the Hyderabad University, the goons in the ABVP wing of the BJP and not least by the union labour minister and RSS ideologue Bandaru Dattatreya together with MHRD minister Smirti Irani. Rohith was a 26 year old Dalit PhD student and an active member of the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) which campaigns for Dalit rights and justice for all.
ASA held a protest against the hanging of Yakub Menon, accused in the Mumbai bombing, and decided to show a documentary film on the 2013 riots in Muzaffanagar, which lays bare BJP’s instigating role.
Both the protest and the screening of film were opposed by the ABVP students which led to scuffles between the two groups of students. In an attempt to get Rohith and his friends expelled the leader of the ABVP put in a complaint to the Hyderabad University alleging that he had been attacked by ASA members.
An enquiry was held by the authorities which found no evidence of any ASA members being involved in any such attack.
The local BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya took the ABVP side and wrote to Smirti Irani, minister in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, claiming that Hyderabad University was a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics.”
The minister wrote five letters to the university which resulted in five students being expelled and evicted from their accommodation. Rohith was one of them who ended on the street, without money because the University had stopped paying him his fellowship of 25,000 rupees per month.
He was unable to ask his poor parents for help who struggled to make ends meet. The unjust institution robbed Rohith of his opportunity to attain a PhD, robbed his chance of a good career and robbed him of the means to survive. All this led Rohith to commit suicide in his friends flat. This was ‘institutional murder”.
IWA-GB joins thousands people in India and around the world who are aghast by these events. There are wide spread protests in India spearheaded by Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, a broad coalition of organisations demanding justice for Rohith. Dozens of students have gone on hunger strike until their demands are met. In solidarity with these protest we condemn the Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor, BJP ministers and the ABVP student for their Casteist acts. We echo the demands:
· Remove Smriti Irani as Minister
· Remove the Vice Chancellor and punish him for abetting suicide.
· Ban ABVP from all universities