Rohith Vemula's suicide has done one thing — it has made people look inwards about caste and prejudice and its implications in an individual's life. It made people realise that it is not enough that caste is abolished under the Constitution of India, but that it must truly be rooted out from people's minds and hearts.
The PhD student from University of Hyderabad committed suicide on 17 January. Vemula was active in student politics and had grown increasingly silent after the disciplinary action initiated against him — expulsion from the university hostel. Rohith Vemula and four others were attacked by ABVP supporters in the university for wanting to screen the documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hain.
The research scholars were expelled from their hostel in December. They were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus except their classroom, library and conferences and workshops related to their subject of study. They were evicted from their rooms on January and since then they were forced to sleep in a makeshift tent on the campus.
Soon after this issue took centre-stage in the Indian news media, students from across the globe stood in solidarity for Rohith Vemula. According to this report in The Deccan Chronicle, condolence meetings were held in many American universities, Johannesburg and a candlelight vigil will be held in London on 25 January.
Alex Abbasi posted on Facebook, "Long live the Ambedkar Students Association! Long live Dalit Bahujan Solidarity! Long live the Spirit of Rohit Vemula, Rest in Power! Death to Brahminism! Justice to Rohit Vemula and all other fighting Dalit/Bahujan students!"
— NSUI (@nsui) January 20, 2016
— NSUI (@nsui) January 24, 2016
The National Students' Union of India organised a protest in Bengaluru and announced on Twitter that NSUI will go on hunger strike in all state capitals across the country on 25 January.
In the University of Hyderabad, thousands of students gathered to pay tribute to Rohith Vemula, through song and art. A candle march was also held.
University of Hyderabad students pay tribute to scholar Rohith Vemula with paintings and by singing songs pic.twitter.com/OrqZPtMtZV
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 24, 2016
Diksha Dhar, a research fellow at University of Pennsylvania posted:
A solidarity meeting and discussion was held at the university. The official Facebook event page reads: "As we write this, student across India are mobilising and protesting, calling Rohith's suicide an "institutional murder". Through this event, we hope to remember Rohith and his struggles, and express solidarity with student mobilisations against casteism in Indian universities."
The Bahujan Writers Association joins the protest and expressed solidarity:
Students across the world are using social media: Facebook and Twitter to channelise their dissent and mobilise action within the community.