…by crushing individuals, they cannot kill ideas - Bhagat Singh
Comrade Rohith, we pay our deepest respects to you. We share your concerns. With you and like you we think that Systemic revolutions and great social transformations should go hand in hand. Rohith we fully agree with you that unless the oppressed are armed with scientific knowledge and rationality, revolution and emancipation remain elusive.
New Socialist Initiative pays its respects to comrade Rohith Vemula, PhD scholar and student leader of University of Hyderabad. Rohith is not just a name of a scholar today. It has become a battle cry against the saffronisation of Indian education system. Rohith is the name of the relentless struggle against the upper caste domination in the institutions of higher education. Rohith has become a symbol of revolt against the decadence of our civilisation. Yes, Rohith committed suicide, killed himself, but not in desperation, not in fruitless vengeance. As his last words amply show, he seemed to be making a political and philosophical statement on the order of the things in this country, on the despicable manuvadi practices raising their ugly heads in the university campuses, on fascist targeting of Muslim minority community, on the rising intolerance and irrationality in our society.
Rohith may be born a Dalit, but reducing him to just his Dalit identity is gross injustice to this profound thinker, and relentless fighter who dreamt of a society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression. Yes, Rohith consistently called himself a dalit Marxist. He was committed to a Marxist worldview that is inspired by the emancipatory ideas of Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Rohith was a rare combination of critical thinking and militant political activism. Rohith understood that Revolution, social emancipation and scientific temper go hand in hand. He displayed the qualities of a fine leader in making by his persuasive arguments as well as by uncompromising struggles, by his ability to lead both discussions and movements in creative ways. Rohith was not a timid person. He challenged the powers- that- be on a daily basis, he bravely confronted the goonda gangs of fascist ABVP. He never hid his contempt towards the brahminical upper caste idiocy, likewise he never failed in defending the rights of the oppressed , of Dalits, of Women, of Adivasis or of Muslim minorities.
Because of the anti-brahminical, anti-fascist stands taken by Comrade Rohith and his Comrades of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) on various issues including the death sentences of Afjal Guru and Yakub Memon, the right wing Administration of University of Hyderabad (UoH) and fascist ABVP methodically targeted them. Since the BJP’s ascendance to power in centre, both the university administration and ABVP started attacking ASA with a long term goal of completely destroying the organisation which stood like a strong wall against the attempts of saffronisation of UoH. Without understanding this background, it is difficult to know why Dalit PhD scholars were expelled from hostels and how they are sleeping under a open sky as a protest and finally why Rohith had resorted to this extreme and unacceptable form of protest.
At a personal level Comrade Rohith was a brilliant scholar interested in cosmology and wanted to become a science writer like Carl Sagan. He was concerned about the social conditions and cultural traits that are making humans lose their humanness and touch with nature. He was seriously concerned about the dangerously raising levels of toxic irrationality of our society. He wanted to work on these issues. Rohith was such a wonderful human being who, in the midst of a fierce political battle with university administration and in the turmoil erupting from a personal existentialist angst, could maintain his calm and could think about human condition.
We think that the best way to remember Rohith is to intensify the struggle against:
- the saffronisation of Education,
- inhuman caste system and its various ugly forms of oppression and discrimination,
- the religious fundamentalism and obscurantism
- against bigotry and superstition
- against the horrors of capitalism
New Socialist Initiative will endeavour to take forward the unfulfilled dreams of comrade Rohith. We resolve to carry forward Rohith’s unfinished dream about spreading science and rationality among the oppressed people.
In deep anguish over his sad death and in solidarity with all his comrades, friends and loved ones, we pay our tribute to comrade Rohith. Long Live comrade Rohith.
We demand :
1. Punish all the culprits responsible for Rohith’s death.
2. Preserve the autonomy and climate of intellectual freedom in the campuses.
3. Meet all the demands of the Joint Action Committee.