29 January, 2016, Friday: About two hundred students gathered at Ganga Bus Stand, overlooking the Health Centre and Dhaba ten o’clock at night, to raise their voice against what JNUSU- the organising body- called the ‘institutionalised murder’ of RohithVemula, a 27-year old student at UoH. They held a candlelight vigil marked by highly pitched dissenting voices shouting slogans, in stark difference from the silent night vigils. Having sensed the gravity of the matter, they openly expressed fear of an impending caste conflict and uprising Brahminism.
The cross-campus vigil marked the restart of hunger strike by Rohith’s classmates at UoH: the day also happens to be his birthdate. Candles dotted the darkness of JNU streets as a massive student’s crowd rallied throughout the campus.
By eleven o’clock the vigil reached Sabarmati Hostel and the demonstrators, now numbering more than three hundred, marched in unison towards the Administration Building where several students have been sitting on a hunger strike in unity with several other university students demanding for the resignation of UoH Vice Chancellor and Smriti Irani among many others.
Asked during a brief interview while moving from T-point to administration building, Ms. Khampa, a language student gave a small shrug along with a bemused laugh, “I did not expect this many people in this cold. It’s good in a way,” she said. One student said he went to the vigil for the ’victim’ even though he considered the Left as an adversary.
After the candles burnt out and the sloganeering died down, President Kanhaiya Kumar spoke to fellow students at the site of the ongoing indefinite hunger strike: “Dronacharya once asked Ekalavya for his thumb and today UoH VC has taken Rohith’s life. What we really have to start asking ourselves is what we can do to rectify the situation and how to control the insidious activities of the Right.” His concluding remarks condemned Subramaniyam Swamy, the BJP leader who had stoked controversy by calling the protestors ‘dogs.’
Kumar Prashant is a BA student at CRS and works for The Informer.