Brutal attack on N Susheel Kumar, a Ph.D Scholar of Applied Linguistic Department in University of Hyderabad, by a group of around 40 people on the night of August 3, 2015 and subsequent probe by Proctorial Board led to the expulsion of five students, including Rohith Vemula, from hostel. Susheel, who is also president of ABVP’s University unit, is not ready to accept the fact that a strong-willed student Rohith could commit suicide. Organiser senior correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know the series of incidents that led to such an unfortunate climax. He says, “Let there be a fair inquiry. If the facts are out, the culprits will be exposed.” Excerpts:
- What actually happened before the suicide by Rohith Vemula?
The people with whom Rohith was associated organised Namaz-e-Janaza on July 30, 2015 at Shopping Complex in Hyderabad for Yakub Menon. Protesting against capital punishment, they glorified his terror acts. Earlier, they did it for other terrorists like Afzal too. On August 2, I saw Facebook posts of that Namaz-E-Janaza along with some disturbing lines Agar ek Yakub Mar Gaya to Har Ghar se ek Yakub Niklega; Hey Yakub Tumhare Khoon se Inqilab Niklega. It deeply disturbed me. Therefore, on August 4, we decided to organise a protest outside the Administration Building. So we released a poster against glorification of Yakub and used a word ‘goon’ for those who glorified him. At around 12.30 am on the night of August 3, a group of 30-40 people knocked my door in the hostel and questioned about my FB posts. I tried to pacify them that it is not for any individual, but they did not listen anything. They took me out and started beating and hitting me. They wanted me to withdraw the postures from FB and also tender an apology. Finding out no way I agreed for an apology. As I got a chance, I called security and police. The security came and took me inside the security van. But they pulled me out of the van and again started beating me. Finding no option, I wrote the apology. They took me to security gate and made to upload that apology on FB from the security room itself. As they left, I deactivated my FB account, because I did not want my cadre to feel demorlised. I called my brother to take me to hospital. He came and rushed me to a hospital where I was operated immediately.
- Did you not complaint University authorities about the attack?
Since I was admitted in the hospital, our University unit general secretary Krishna Chaitanya on August 4 itself moved a complaint to the Proctorial Board. As he was not present during the whole incident he could not provide sufficient evidences in our support. So, the Board closed the issue by issuing warning to both the parties. Meanwhile, the University Teachers Association released a poster claiming that Susheel was not attacked at all.
- Why didn’t you yourself filed the complaint?
That I did after coming from the hospital and the Board called me on August 26. Taking into consideration all the facts, evidences as well as eyewitnesses, the Board found five students, including Vemula, guilty and suspended them from academics. Angered over it they demanded suspension of the punishment. Following their demand the then VC, Prof RP Sharma, kept the suspension under abeyance and formed a new committee, Sudhakar Reddy Committee, which expressed inability to look into the matter. Then the new VC, Prof Appa Rao Podile, forwarded it to the EC sub committee, which too found them guilty. Even then the VC, while taking a lenient step just suspended them from the hostel.
- Was it for the first time that students were suspended from the hostel?
No. There have been many such incidents in the past. About five years back even ABVP workers were expelled from academics. On August 4, when I was in the hospital my mother went to meet VC. Instead of listening to her, she was abused in VC cabin only. It is all recorded in CCTV camera. Finding no way my mother approached the High Court. Meanwhile, the MIM people created a reign of terror in the campus by conducting a rally. We were worried over the situation. That is why we approached the government. Interestingly, they organised Namaj–e-Janaza for Yakub, but not for Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
- Why did you not reveal all these facts so far?
Suicide by Rohith deeply saddened me. From Rahul Gandhi to Kejriwal and even every gali leader started calling me a criminal. Except ideological difference we didn’t have any personal grudge towards each other. I read his suicide note many times to understand what made him to take this step. I developed so many doubts. What were those people doing who used him so far? When he was suspended from the hostel, why did they not send someone with him? Why didn’t the faculty members, who deliver lectures on suicidal tendency, did counselling for him? Therefore, I say there should be a fair inquiry into the whole incident.
If you look at the past incidents, the violent tendency of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) is increasing. When I was admitted to hospital, they attacked a person belonging to Madiga community. Before that a Ph.D scholar from Physics Department was brutally beaten up by them. His only fault was that he refused to argue with them when they were drinking. Such midnight incidents are increasing in the campus everyday.
- Majority people do not accept the suicide theory?
This is a question which haunts me also. He was such a guy who could have confronted even 100 people. He could have talked to anyone. He was not the kind of person to commit suicide over any so-called Dalit issue. Let there be an inquiry. If the facts are out, the culprits will be exposed.
- Now there are attacks on ABVP offices for the incident?
It shows there mindset. It is their political agenda to corner the Right Wing ideology even without any fault. They talk about intolerance. Is attack on ABVP office not intolerance? If they are so tolerant they should accept enquiry. The scraped part of the suicide note also raises questions about his dissatisfaction towards the people with whom he worked. He also referred to some bad waters in the ASA. Why did he tell that? He has not blamed the ABVP for the suicide. Then why drag us in the controversy?
- Who scraped those parts from the suicide note?
That should also be enquired.
- At one point of time Vemula had praised Modi. Then why he turned towards the Left outfits?
Yes, he was a supporter of Modi. Later, he turned to SFI, then ASA and then started opposing capital punishment. For some time he even started praising Asaduddin Owaisi. One can easily notice the shift in his thinking. This also shows that he was being brainwashed by faculty members in the University.
- Does some faculty members indulge in such things?
Yes. The main strength of the Left outfits is the faculty members. But there is no single faculty member who supports us. I say you teach Marxism, Naxalism or even Maoism, but don’t motivate the students to attract towards them.
- What about Vemula’s mobile phone?
It also needs enquiry. Some people say he did not have a phone. While his mother was reportedly saying that she called Rohit’s friends because his number was not reachable. It is difficult to digest that a Ph.D scholar, who gets about Rs 30,000 per month did not have a phone.