Johar Rohith Vemula!
Members of FSA express deep shock at the suicide of Rohith Vemula, one of the five socially boycotted Dalit Scholars at the University of Hyderabad. We condemn this institutional murder of a bright young Dalit student, leader, organizer and thinker by the brahminical casteist forces all the way from the campus administration to the centre. We have seen how an active thinker and organizer from the oppressed community is seen by the establishment as a threat whether alive or dead, as seen in the way his body was secretly cremated by police without informing relatives and friends. We demand justice on all fronts and stand in solidarity with the struggle which is having to be waged in spite of this tragedy.
Some of us knew of Rohith as a person who was part of the efforts in creating a space for the assertion and articulation of the marginalized on campus, and as someone who pushed for alliance building and solidarity between various oppressed groups and support for their diverse voices. He was doing all this and also critically analyzing various movements and issues through an actively evolving anticaste Ambedkarite vision.
As a network of Adivasi, Dalit, Pastoralist, Peasant and Co-producer groups who have come together to fight for Food Sovereignty through social justice, many of us – especially the youth from our groups who have come forward to become organizers from their villages and politically educate themselves and their community, and the community leaders, who are trying to connect and dialogue with the campus community on various struggles and perspectives – were hoping to meet, dialogue with, learn from and work with Rohith and others like him. This is a great loss for anyone fighting for social justice, particularly for the younger generation which is looking for genuine leaders and guides from their communities, as well as allies who are looking for Dalit Bahujan and Adivasi leadership to to guide their actions.
At this juncture, we at FSA appeal to everyone to learn and think about caste, which forms the very basis of society in the subcontinent. Not recognizing caste only ensures the status quo of the privileged and silencing of oppressed voices as has happened again today. No movement is effective or long lasting without recognizing and organizing on the basis of this core phenomenon.
In particular we declare again that we will also raise the issues of caste in the approach, perspectives and working of food justice, resource rights, and agro-ecological movements in India, as well as all other struggles of the various communities, and keep working to ensure that the voices from Dalit Bahujan and Adivasi communities and leaders (who are the real providers of food, labour and ecological – democratic thought in this country) will grow stronger and louder in spaces where they are otherwise kept silent, and also work to create more of our own independent spaces of dialogue and expression of each community.
We see no movement in isolation and will continue to build alliances and work toward creating more spaces for dialogue between movements.We just wish we could have been doing these with you, Rohith, rather than with the void of your absence. But your spirit and inspiration shall take us forward.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rohith Vemula.
Jai Bhim to all.
Some information on the context:
Timeline of ongoing struggle and nationwide movements: