The trouble at the Hyderabad University campus began with the screening of the documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in distant Delhi. Its director Nakul Singh Sawhney, addressing protesting students at the university campus raises the question of what made BJP minister Bandaru Dattatreya term Rohith Vemula and thefour other students "anti-national" and "casteist".
Pointing to a statement made by historian YS Rao – who was the chief of the Indian Council of Historical Research until November 2015 – in favour of the caste system, Sawhney raises the question of what is "casteist" and how the current government interprets casteism.
Before being appointed to the important post in 2014, Rao had written in a 2007 blog post titled Indian Caste System: A Reappraisal , "The (caste) system was working well in ancient times and we do not find any complaint from any quarters against it. It is often misinterpreted as an exploitative social system for retaining economic and social status of certain vested interests of the ruling class."
Rohith stood for a nationalism that does not discriminate on the basis of caste, class, religion, region or gender, Sawhney says, the kind that was drafted by Ambedkar in our Constitution, adding that the Constitution grants citizens the right to dissent. "We'll always be critical of your Manu-wadi definition of nationalism" he says.
On August 2, 2015, ABVP members stopped the screening of the film on the Muzaffarnagar riots in Delhi University. The Ambedkar Student Union members in Hyderabad University protested against that act, and termed the ABVP's act "hooliganism". This led to bickering between the two student groups, and an allegation by one Susheel Kumar that he was assaulted by the students from the ASA.
This was later changed to say Kumar was manhandled when he spoke against the ASA students' protest against Yakub Memon's hanging. And so began the exchange and manipulation of information, ending in Rohith Vemula's suicide.