A young researcher from University of Hyderabad, Rohith Vemula, was found hanging in his hostel room on Sunday – 17th January evening. This tragic incident has once again brought forth the hard truth about how we’re still living in dark ages where societal status and justice is granted on the basis of ones caste, creed and reigion. A Dalit, Rohith was actively involved in campus activism on diverse issues ranging from Ambedkarite politics to protests against beef ban and the persistence of the death penalty in the Indian criminal justice system. As a result, he was evicted from his hostel accommodation a month ago.
The drastic step that he took wasn’t an abrupt decision taken out of haste, as is evident from his suicidal note. He was fully conscious about what he was doing and it seems he knew his death would leave some serious repercussions. “My birth is my fatal accident”, he wrote. The discrimination he and his fellow Dalit friends, who were also expelled from the hostel, faced and the humiliation they had to go through left a huge dent in his mind. The effects of such social boycott are bound to disrupt anyone’s psychology.
We’re in the 21st century. Oh wait, not yet..
The question which arises is are we really a free country? Maybe we attained freedom from exterior demons, but what about the ones thriving inside us? The way our outlook changes towards a person depending on his caste and strata. Forgive me for being blunt, but do not we still consider Dalits as lower class deep in our minds? According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “Dalits and indigenous peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or adivasis) continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local authorities.”
Some reactions were more hurtful than the actual incident
Many people have sunk deep enough to link caste-related violence to the reservation granted to the lower-classes. Forgive me for using that word but that’s how we refer to them, right? Anyway, the deluded sycophants rest their argument saying, “caste-related discrimination will exist as long as the reservation system for lower castes exist.” Isn’t this statement itself passive aggressive and hatred-inciting? For others this tragedy has become a political battleground and are indulging in the usual mud-slinging for personal benefits. And the way media has handled this is a different story altogether. Better not comment about it.
Equality first, development later
Caste system is a curse. We cannot move forward to become a progressed society unless we totally eradicate this evil not just on paper, but from our minds and our hearts first. Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote which has been called the immortal declaration says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Indeed all men were created equal by the Creator, but we humans had a brilliant idea to divide and rule. Ironically, the word Dalit is derived from a Sanskrit word Dalita which means divided, split and broken.