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Rohith Vemula studied science and was a great lover of poetry. A popular figure on the campus as well as in the virtual world, he was a voracious reader of revolutionary Dalit Literature. He often shared the excerpts from the works of scholars on his Facebook wall that became a source of inspiration for many others like him. Quite naturally then his writings were eagerly awaited by many of his admirers.
Rohith was a young student who was about to celebrate his 27th birthday on January 30. His friends recall that he had written several short stories and poems that he wished to publish someday. S Harinath, a research scholar at UoH said,” I knew him for the past three years. He was a well-read and joyful person. He had keen interest in poetry.”
But his love was not just restricted to literature. The second year PhD scholar was equally if not more passionate about science, technology and environment. He extensively studied these subjects and in fact the topic of his PhD thesis was ‘Science, technology and social studies.’ He followed every development taking place across the globe in these fields.
Apart from having varied academic interests he also took keen interest in politics. He was an active member of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and was at the forefront of activities organized by the organization. He deeply believed in the motto of ASA that is ‘educate, agitate and organize.’
His spare time was mostly spent in pursuing adventurous activities like doing rock climbing at the university campus. Rohith joined UoH in 2012 in the sociology department and because of his exceptional academic record he was able to secure two national fellowships-Junior Research Fellow and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Together the two scholarships amounted to Rs 20,000 per month to support his education.
He used to send a part of this back home to his mother Radhika Vemula who is a tailor by profession. His father worked as a security guard but had been missing for several years now. His younger brother lives in Uppal and is employed with National Geophysics Research Institute (NGRI).
Due to the financial strains on the family Rohith dreamt of becoming a science writer someday and put an end to this crisis. Ramji, one of Rohith’s friends recalled,” Rohith always took keen interest in revolutionary literature. Especially literary works penned by Dalit writers. While he was academically sound, it was subjects like science and technology that peaked his interest.”
Even his family members remember him as extremely meritorious and hard-working. His aunt Vasudha Vemula said,” He was always a bright student, he never had any problem. What pushed him to take this step, is a question that will elude us forever. “