Phd student Rohith Vemula’s death a year ago, in January 2016, led to widespread protests and student agitations across the country. In the year gone by since then, with border skirmishes, demonetisation and assembly elections in five states being the centre of attention, Vemula’s suicide remains all but forgotten.
The case against the government and Hyderabad university officials is still mired in debates about whether or not Vemula was a Dalit, without focussing on the actual problem, which involves abetment of suicide. On Vemula’s death anniversary, the police detained journalists and students who had gathered to observe the day.
However, Rohith Vemula’s memory lives on through song, poetry and verse. The video above features a song composed in Marathi, whose lyrics go: “Rohit gela, Dalitha mela, marute hi lokshahi (Rohit is gone, a Dalit is dead, and with it goes democracy)“. It’s a section of a two-part political rap composition – Funeral of a Native Son and Native Bapa – by the Kerala-based group Mappila Lahala, featuring Malayalam actor Mamukoya.
“One star in the star studded sky. The sparkle in your shadow enfolds the eyes of this world. Why did you retire to bed after waking up the whole nation? The nation too feels your pain. Thousands bear your pain. The dream you see there is the one we are shaping here,” ends the song.