There is an anonymous poem called “Mr. Nobody” which makes sly fun of the fact that everyone pleads innocence when things go terribly wrong. This childish poem comes to mind—in a bizarre, tragic form—on reading the verdict of the official panel set up to probe the death of Rohith Vemula. The panel, a judicial commission set up by the Human Resources Development ministry, consists of one man, former Allahabad high court judge Justice A K Roopanwal.
His report claims that "Vemula was a troubled individual and was unhappy for several reasons". It essentially says no one and nothing is responsible for Rohith’s death. In one stroke, it whitewashes the discriminatory action taken by the Hyderabad Central University against Rohith and his fellow students. It absolves the BJP leaders at whose behest the action was apparently taken.
The report does more: it rids India of caste like magic. Wear a blindfold, it seems to say, plug your ears, and caste discrimination will go away. To tell people who have been treated as unequal citizens that the inequality does not exist is cruelty. To tell those who are fighting caste inequality that it does not exist is cynical mockery.
The report is not exactly a surprise, however. Indeed, it is quite predictable. Last year, the enquiry commission report submitted to the HRD ministry began the blindfolding and whitewashing exercise by claiming Rohith was not a dalit; and, of course, by absolving, of all responsibility, then HRD minister Smriti Irani and BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya.
Not all of us need to be blindfolded or suffer from a wilful loss of memory. The Indian Cultural Forum reiterates its solidarity with all those who will continue to ask for justice for all the Rohiths of India.
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From the Indian Cultural Forum: