January, 30; Washington, DC: ICDR along with Ambedkrize fellows organized Candle Light Vigil Demanding Justice for Rohit Vemula at the American University, DC, and urged Government of India to review and cease the discriminatory regulations that unequally treat students based on their caste, gender, belief and origin in the education systems of India. The ICDR President Mr. DB Sagar said, ‘the corrupt leadership and ambiguity laws governing the educational institutions like University of Hyderabad (HOU) have negatively impacted the professional and personal growth of students, particularly Dalits and Adivasi. He recalled American people, students and government to speak up and take a stand against the caste-based discrimination and prejudice that have been negatively impacting more than 300 million Dalit populations around the world, especially in South Asia.
American University’s Chaplain Prof. Joseph Eldridge said, “It is important to come together to stand in solidarity with our Dalit brothers and sisters and I am grateful to you for organizing this opportunity to witness. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness and that is just what you did.” Likewise, Manoj Mitta, Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow and a senior editor of India’s Times of India and the Indian Express urged the international community to monitor the situation. Other speakers, including Dr. Laxmi Berwa, Ms. Smitha Dandge, Michelle Swiger, and Rebecca Simpson demanded to cease the UoH administration and investigate independently against the discriminatory suspension of five Dalit schools, including Mr. Rohit Bemula.
Mr. V. Rohit was victimized by an institutional prejudice and discrimination based on Caste at the Hyderabad Center University (HCU), India. Rohit was an emerging Dalit Scholar/scientist and was an advocate against caste-based discrimination at academic settings in Indian Universities. ICDR believes that the world has lost a potential scientist, who loved Science, Stars, and Nature from Rohit’s painful death.