Even as politicians visited Hyderabad Central University (HCU) campus condemning the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, writers and academicians across India and the world expressed concerns over the incident. Noted writer Ashok Vajpeyi has even decided to return D. Litt given to him by Hyderabad Central University in protest against what he termed the “anti-Dalit” attitude of authorities which has allegedly driven a dalit student to commit suicide.
“A dalit student, Rohith Vemula, who wanted to be a writer was driven to commit suicide due to anti-dalit attitude and intolerance of dissent shown. I have decided to return the award in protest against university authorities, (who were) presumably acting under political pressure,” Mr. Vajpeyi told the news agency late on Tuesday.
Vajpayi, who also served as the chairman of literary institute Lalit Kala Akademi, was awarded D.Litt (Doctor of Letters, honoris causa) by the Central University of Hyderabad few years ago. Returning his honorary degree, he said the institution has “acted against human dignity and knowledge”.
The noted poet was also among the writers and authors who had returned their Sahitya Academy awards last year to protest against the “rising intolerance in country” after the Dadri incident, where a 50-year-old muslim man was lynched by the mob over rumours that his family ate and stored beef.
A total of 39 writers had returned their awards protesting against the Akademi’s alleged silence on the murder of fellow writer and Sahitya Akademi board member M M Kalburgi as well as against the growing “communal atmosphere” following the Dadri lynching incident.
Vajpeyi had received the Sahitya award in 1994 for his poetry collection, Kahin Nahin Wahin.
In a related development, more than 130 academicians and senior scholars from across the globe issued statement expressing their concern over the tragic incident of suicide by 26-year-old Dalit scholar at the HCU. The statement is signed by noted scholars and academicians like Rupa Viswanath, French scholar Christophe Jaffrelot, Ania Loomba of University of Pennsylvania, Srirupa Roy of the University of Göttingen, Joel Lee of the Williams College, to name a few.
(With inputs from the PTI)