In July 2015, Rohit Vemula a PhD scholar of Hyderabad University has committed suicide. Before committing Suicide he has been suspended along with his four friends for raising issues under the banner of ‘Ambedkar Students Associations’. The fellowship of Vemula and his friends was stopped by University Administration. The students sat on hunger strike. There were numerous questions raised on Vemula that he was not Dalit. The last letter of Rohith Vemula says that “my birth was a fatal accident; I can never recover my childhood loneliness, the unappreciated child from my past. In his letter, he has written about debt on him and urged to pay.”
After that another incidence happened, Najeeb Ahmad from JNU is still missing and he was missing from the day when he had a confrontation with ABVP members in Mahi-Mandavi Hostel.
This year we have witnessed the death of Payal Tadvi who killed herself because of caste discrimination in the campus, and now, Fathima Lateef of IIT Madras had committed suicide because of religious discrimination by the teachers. The note in her phone clearly points out the name of the teacher.
Here, we have pointed out few names only because these names got media attention and all the students belonged to big and prestigious universities. But there are many more who are unheard, unnoticed. Do you really think so that they are really weak in studies and could not handle academics so they have committed suicide? These all students have qualified entrances to study in these institutions. Many of them are toppers of their class. So, the academics could not be reason to commit suicide.
The letter of Rohith Vemula clearly says that he was facing difficulties when his stipend was stopped. He was fighting against caste prejudices, the huge protest was initiated by HCU and JNU and called Rohith’s suicide is institutional murder. Still, the issues have not taken seriously. In many institutions the Administration, Teachers continue doing caste, gender and religious discrimination.
In India, for attaining higher education you have to go through difficult processes. You have to fight from the Government to get scholarship. Then you have to fight from the administration for the massive fee hike, seat cuts, and compulsory attendance. You have to also fight from orthodox people who still believes in caste and gender hierarchy. With all these burden students go to a University in which few of them are able to fight from all these circumstances. Few initiate fights and few were so much mentally harassed that they have taken extreme steps like committing suicide. Most of the OBC, SC, ST, Muslim and Women students are victim of all these burdens, as a result, our newspaper is always full off such stories.
A question should be definitely raised from the government, vice-chancellors, teachers from the universities that despite knowing that all these discriminations, why they have not taken any actions? Why there have been no serious initiatives taken by the Universities to prevent students from dying.
In conversation with students of prestigious University – Delhi University. The research students of History says that most of the Hindi medium students have been failed in course work. When they were giving presentations many teachers and students have laughed at them. Many students have dropped out of the course. Few were surviving in the course, but they blame nepotism for particular students. Few students say that they also feel like dying due to caste, religious, and regional discrimination in the department.
There are many such stories in every department, every university. But these things are always unnoticed and unreported. Many students are facing mental problems due to their teachers. They have been mocked for their bad English, they are unequal because of Hindi medium. If a student has gathered voice to speak up against such mental harassment by teachers, fellow classmates. The voice of the individual is suppressed. Other students would be warned that if you raise voice against any of the problems, you maybe fail, might be you will not get degree, might be you will face more mental harassments by whole web of powers. Due to all these problems, students are afraid of raising voice and they felt suffocation as a result either they drop the course or commit suicide.
This is the real truth of Indian Universities where 90 percent of professors belong to upper castes, the voices of Dalits, backward, Muslims, and Women are always suppressed. Very few teachers understands the financial, mental and physical issues of a student. The Universities have ‘student grievance cell’ but they hardly look up for mental harassment cases. The marginalized section of this country is feeling voiceless.
At last the family of students are on the losing side, the mother of Rohith Vemula is still crying, The Mother of Najeeb is still searching for her child. The father of Fathima is still asking for justice.
The government and teachers of the universities should take responsibility, there should be proper investigation and teacher behind student’s death should be punished. The voice of students should be heard, the administration and teachers should not become so insensitive and careless about students’ problems. The most important that our educational institution taught us that we all are equals then why some teachers have not understood the term. Why do they discriminate between an upper-caste and lower-caste students, between Hindi and English medium, between Hindus and Muslims. We are hoping that there should not be any second Rohith Vemula, Payal Tadvi, Najeeb and Fathima Lateef. Each life is important and don’t make student voiceless.
We appeal to the students that if you are right, don’t afraid of these powerful teachers and administrators. If you are facing any discrimination please come forward and speak up.
The writer is a research scholar of Delhi University