29, Feb 2016
Amrita Madhukalya @visually_kei
New Delhi: “Rohith Vemula never wanted to be a victim; it was not in his nature to accept victimhood,” says Dontha Prasant, one of Rohith’s friend from the Hyderabad University, and one of the five PhD students who were barred from entering the University after they had been accused of protesting against the hanging of Yakub Memon, and for protesting against the disruption of the screening of Nakul Sawhney’s Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai by the ABVP at Delhi University.
“Even in his suicide letter, somewhere down the line, he challenged the notions of death. He would talk of how grassroot leaders should be encouraged, and had denounced any form of religious extremism,” says Prasant. “He followed the ideas of Carl
Sagan, Ambedkar, Marx, Kalekuri Prasad, and Sri Sri.”
It was when he had shared a poem of Sri Sri that critiqued the Hindu religion on Facebook in 2012 that he had his first violent brush with the saffron brigade. After a police complaint made by the elder brother of current ABVP president Nandanam Susheel Kumar, Rohith was arrested.
“It was when he proved to the police that he had only shared it that he was released,” says Sunkanna, Rohith’s friend and one of the five boys who were barred.
Rohith’s brother, Raja Vemula, who was younger to Rohit by a year and a half, says that he his brother loved to read. “He was a clever student, and would always have a book in his hand. He loved books,” recounts Raja. “Unfailingly, he would start his day with the day’s news and would even urge me. I would dismiss him.”