For Rohit Vemula’s family, Ambedkar’s birthday became day of Azadi from caste system
Sixty years ago Dr. Ambedkar with almost five lakh people embraced Buddhism to escape from the stranglehold of Hindu caste system. In the meeting held in Nagpur Ambedkar told that there is no equality in the Hindu religion. Because of Hindu religion, no one can progress. That religion is destructive religion”. On his 125th birthday, a family which lost a son because of the prejudices of the brahmanical caste system, did the same thing to escape the cruelty of Hindu caste system thus bringing in to fore the fact that Hindu religion has survived with the caste system despite some good attempts by many reformers.
Raj Vemula , brother of Rohit Vemula, the research scholar who committed suicide after he could not stand the violent nature of brahminical prejudices said that his family opted to leave the Hindu religion because of the caste system. He said Buddhism does not have such oppressive system of caste. Raja said his conversion is azadi from the caste system . He claimed his brother Rohith was Budhist at heart and they performed his last rites according to Buddhist traditions. Raja and his mother Radhika were given deeksha at a function in Dadar near Mumbai in the presence of Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr. Ambedkar.
Rohith Vemula committed suicide on January 17 in a hostel room in Hyderabad University after he was suspended from the university following a complaint by the ABVP. After that he was subjected to social exclusion. Rohith’s death and the centre government’s response rekindled anti- caste movement in the country. In university campuses the ABVP has violently resisted the political movement by the anti- caste movements by the students.
Despite the posturing by the Sangh Parivar leaders as anti – casteist many of its leaders have come out openly against dalit empowerment in recent times. Last week the party was forced to suspend its women’s wing leader in Uttar Pradesh , Madhu Mishra after her anti-dalit diatribe created huge furore. She alleged to have said that “those who are ruling over you with the help of the constitution now were the same people who once used to polish your shoes. Now they are our masters. This is because (Brahmins) stand divided”. Union minister V K Singh’s reaction when two dalit children were killed in Haryana were also criticised for the anti- dalit prejudices it carried