Why Dalit students are committing suicide

HAPPENSdalitscrimeIn his last letter Rohith Vermula a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University, who killed himself, wrote that his birth was a fatal accident as he was always rushing in a desperate attempt to start a life. He said he felt not sad, but just empty and unconcerned about himself, which was pathetic, and was the reason he decided to hang himself.

Tragically the young man who loved science, nature and people had aspired to become a science writer, but he ended up defeated and crushed by discrimination and apathy.

Vermula, 26, was one of 5 Dalit students who were protesting against their expulsion from the campus housing facility. Last year the students also protested against the execution of Yakub Memon the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings. The university also stopped paying Vermula’s monthly stipend because he raised issues under the Dalit-led students union.

One report says the sequence of these ongoing and endless obviously discriminatory events led to Vermula’s suicide and showed how he was isolated by campus authorities and his appeals went unheard.

Vermula’s is not an exceptional story of casteism on India’s campuses, as cases have been reported about several Dalit students who took their own lives as they were unable to cope with caste politics at the Hyderabad University in the past years. In fact between 2007 and 2011 alone,18 Dalit students ended their own lives in India’s educational institutions.

Dalits and tribals have also become pawns in India’s vote bank politics and modern-day India even segregates Dalits by making them wear markers such as coloured wrist bands and they are forced to clean school toilets.