Donning white T-shirts with the faces of Rohith Vemula and Dr BR Ambedkar imprinted on it, raising slogans of 'Jai Bhim' and 'Neel Salaam' scores of students welcomed Radhika Vemula to University of Hyderabad on Thursday. She had come to pay respects to her son, Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar who had taken his own life on January 17, 2016, a death that was clearly an 'institutional murder'.
Accompanying Radhika Vemula was Fatima Nafis, mother of JNU student, Najeeb Ahmed who has been 'missing' following an alleged feud with ABVP students. Before garlanding Rohith's bust, Radhika Vemula broke down lamenting the loss of her 26-year-old son.
Speaking at the event, Radhika said that she would fight against all the communal Hindu forces, and declared that she will also fight for Najeeb's cause. "I am highly distressed that Najeeb Ahmed, who is a research scholar like Rohith, has disappeared. The reason behind his disappearance is the Hindu communal forces. Knowing this, I have decided to fight with a conscious determination against the Hindu communal and anti constitutional forces. This same force is also responsible for the death of Rohith."
Reciprocating her solidarity, Fatima said that she can share the pain of her sister, Radhika Vemula. "Like Savitribai and Fatima Sheik we two will fight for justice. In this regime, all the institutions have been headed by pro-government people, and atrocities are being committed against Dalit, Muslim and Adivasi students."
She further expressed confidence that her son, Najeeb is alive, and assured to Rohith that he would get justice after the BJP government is thrown out of power in the upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, heavy security was engaged by the varsity, preventing outsiders including the media from partaking in the event. Commotion prevailed for a while when students who took a rally from the 'Velivada' structure in honour of Rohith (which was recently removed) to the main gate, to receive Radhika Vemula and other guests tried breaking open the gates. However, the students quickly relented.
Three years ago, UoH PhD scholar Rohith killed self after being evicted from the hostel along with four other students of the Ambedkar Students' Association. The administration found then guilty of physically assaulting the then ABVP president, Sushil Nandanam over a Facebook post. Along with the eviction, the administration had imposed several other restrictions including on their interactions with other students. Protesting the decision of the administration, these students erected 'Velivada', a temporary structure and camped there alleging 'caste discrimination' by the Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao.