Home » Politics » The storm centre: what ABVP's Susheel Kumar said about #RohitVemula suicide

The storm centre: what ABVP's Susheel Kumar said about #RohitVemula suicide

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:35 IST

The friendship

  • ABVP\'s Susheel Kumar was a political rival of Rohith Vemula, the research scholar who committed suicide in Hyderabad
  • Susheel claims he and Rohith had been friends since 2007, but fell out over the latter\'s glorification of Yakub Memon, accused of the Mumbai 1992 terror attack

The demand

  • Susheel has demanded a fair investigation into the suicide
  • He says if he\'s found guilty, he\'s ready to face punishment

More in the story

  • Susheel\'s allegations against politicians like Rahul Gandhi
  • His claims that Rohith\'s ASA had beaten up not just him, but others too

"I had known Rohith Vemula since 2007. He was a good friend. He was not at all the kind of person who would commit suicide just for being suspended from the hostel. I strongly demand a fair investigation into his suicide, and for the guilty to be punished."

These words come from an unlikely source - Susheel Kumar, the man at the centre of the storm kicked up by research scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide.

Susheel is the president of the Hyderabad Central University unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and was known to have had ideological run-ins with the Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA) that Rohith belonged to.

Interacting with the media in Mumbai on Friday, 5 February, Susheel said the ABVP did not have a problem with Dalit politics on the HCU campus, as everyone is free to follow and preach the ideology he believes in.

Susheel Kumar, president of the HCU unit of ABVP, spoke to the media in Mumbai on Friday

"We were good friends, despite the difference in our ideology. Our friendship dates back to 2007, when I took admission in the HCU. In my opinion, the suicide needs to be investigated thoroughly to bring the culprits to the justice," Susheel said.

Friendship gone sour

Susheel denied that Rohith's suicide had any Dalit vs Non-Dalit connotations.

"We had strongly opposed the ASA's glorification of Yakub Memon, after it was decided that he will be hanged. I shared a cordial relationship with Rohith, till the ABVP openly objected to the ASA's stand on Yakub," Susheel said.

In a Facebook status on 4 August 2015, Susheel had criticised the ASA for Yakub's glorification. When ASA members came to know about the post, they allegedly stormed into Susheel's hostel room and confronted him.

Susheel claimed he and Rohith were good friends who fell out over Yakub Memon's glorification

"Rohith, along with around 30 members of the ASA, stormed into my hostel room on 4 August, and dragged me out of the room. Once in the open, they lectured me on how great Yakub Memon was and suddenly started thrashing me. Rohith, along with the others, beat me black and blue. They forced me to write an apology for the post. Since I had no option, the letter was written," Susheel said.

According to him, it was this incident that created a rift between him and Rohith. "I thought he was a good friend. But his active involvement in the assault shattered my belief. That was when I distanced myself from him," he said.

He also alleged that when his mother went to meet the vice-chancellor and tried to lodge a complaint against the assault, ASA members abused her in the presence of the V-C and other HCU authorities.

After the complaints, the HCU authorities handed over the matter to the executive council, which issued warnings to both the groups.

"The committee was lenient in punishing the ASA members. They were just suspended from the hostel. There have been instances when students have been suspended from academics as well. Considering that, suspension from the hostel was the most lenient punishment for them," Susheel said.

According to Susheel, it is the ASA's modus operandi to storm into the rooms of students at midnight and thrash them.

"There are several complaints against the ASA. But the HCU administration has turned a blind eye to them. They have even brutally thrashed students from lower strata, even the Dalit community, on the HCU campus. There have been 12 suicide cases since 2007 on the campus. They include students from all sections of the society. All these suicides need to be investigated," he said.

Blown out of proportion by politicians

Stating that the issue had been blown out of proportion by some politicians for vested interests, Susheel pointed to the fact that Rohith had not blamed anyone in his suicide note.

"Politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal and Asaduddin Owaisi visited the HCU campus and tried to give caste colour to the suicide. No one is interested in a fair and thorough inquiry into the matter. I demand the matter be investigated. I am ready for any punishment if found guilty," Susheel said.

Reacting to questions about the caste of Rohith's parents, he added he was not aware whether they were Dalits or not. "I also belong to the OBC category. I have no knowledge about the caste of Rohith's parents. This issue is not at all important for me and ABVP. We never objected to politics of any ideology, including Dalit politics. There are students' groups representing every section of the society, be it Muslims or Dalits. We fought them on ideology. Their religion or caste was never the core of our politics."

First published: 6 February 2016, 2:18 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.