"Caste has killed public spirit. Caste has destroyed the sense of public charity. Caste has made public opinion impossible." - These were the lines said by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and aptly portentous of the present Indian society wherein casteism is not only extant, but whose tree has been rooted so deeply that there is no minority sect which has not been afflicted with the venomous fruits it spawns.
However, what is more perturbing is that every such infelicitous incident finds favour with our vote bankers so that they can heap criticisms at the ruling party. It therefore culminates into an opportune moment for the vulturisation of caste politics, and the recent commission of suicide by the Dalit Research scholar, Rohith Vemula, is clearly evident of such outbreak.
Though the deceased Rohith didn't explicitly blame anyone in his suicide note but the core reasons which came to be highlighted in the aftermath were his altercation with the ABVP activists and the consequent action, of suspending him and four others and holding back of their stipends, by the University authorities. This action of University was clearly a disproportionate one but was justified by them by vindicating their protests against the Yakub Memon's execution and the ABVP's agitation against the screening of the 'Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai' in Delhi University, as anti-national (as if the freedom of speech is restricted for them on an additional ground of being a Dalit). However, there had been other instances of trampling of Dalit students by the non-Dalit counterparts as well as by the professors in the University previous to his death also.This predicament is clearly in tandem with the prelude of his suicide note where he called his'birth is fatal accident'.
This episode sparked off widespread protests across the country including the Hyderabad Central University, as alleging it to be a case of acclivitous discrimination against Dalits, with Carl Sagan's wife expressing her anguish through a letter and Professor Ashok Vajpeyi returning the doctorate he received from the University as a mark of protest. On the other hand, Smt. Smriti Irani, Union Minister of Human Resource Development, stated in media that the victim was not a Dalit, and though assuring that stringent action will be taken against those who are found guilty of abetment of suicide, proscribed the Congress' attempt at instigating the vulnerable Dalit community.
Without delving into the Congress-BJP battle that has unfolded, it may be noted that Smt. Smriti Irani's reaction doesn't seem to be impelling.
This case undoubtedly marks the loss of a brilliant student who was of great value to the nation, who succumbed to those who advocate caste based discrimination. The precedents of the callous treatment meted out to the Dalit students in the University also do not remain to be a secret anymore.
But needless to say, the subsequent events are not less ugly. Whereas, the protests demanding justice for him berating its perpetrators have to be heard and acted upon, but any element which politicizes it is absolutely uncalled for. It is time, when instead of engaging themselves in blame games, all the political parties work out legion measures to curb the menace and ensure their proper implementation and at the same time impose rigid and stricter penalties against the deviants (but as ideal as it appears to be, this is surely quite demanding of them!).
Any visit by any politician to the campus to reach out to the students and their families is instantly attacked by the opposite parties by calling such efforts to be farce. Instead, they should confront themselves to some exigent questions of the time: Isn't the matter of bigotry, which is a caste based terrorism, too sensitive to be made a subject of blame game politics? Is it not their responsibility to regard it as anti-national and worthy enough of being bereft of politically backed motives?
Although the introduction of new development schemes like that of recently launched'Stand-up India' and the 2016 Amendment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,promise to make way for a more progressive social order, but that will not be accomplished unless they are enforced with the equal vigour.
On the positive note, it can only be hoped that this incident sends out the signal (and that we simultaneously receive it) of the imminent caste-engendered fragmentation of the people which the country will have to face if the blunders that are being made are not redressed soon and the equality safeguards vouched by our Constitution are not implemented in their true spirit, so as to realize the dreams which Dr.B.R.Ambedkar had woven for a prosperous India.