“I thought suicides by Dalit students would end with the death of my son. Unfortunately, I had to come two more times to the University of Hyderabad to attend two other funerals and stand in solidarity with Dalit students,” said Pulyala Samaiah, father of Pulyala Raju who committed suicide on March 19, 2013. Samaiah, 49, came to the university on Friday morning to sit with the protesting students through the weekend.
“I did this when Madari Venkatesh committed suicide six months after my son on November 24, 2013. The HRD ministry, the university and officials have not learnt any lessons. I thought they would ensure that poor Dalit students are not driven to hang themselves or take poison again. But it is unfortunate that one more young life has been lost in Rohith. I have come from Bhoopalapalli in Warangal district to protest with these students because I understand what they are going through,” said Samaiah, an employee of Singareni Colleries.
According to a senior university official, a Dalit PhD student, Venkatesh committed suicide on campus by consuming poison after being denied a guide for 18 months.
Samaiah said the complaints of SC/ST students and teachers and non-teaching staff were the same year after year. “The number of families of victims who want to express solidarity with the protesting students is growing every year. Even parents like us, with not much education, understand that you cannot push a student beyond a point. Officials here should consider the social and family backgrounds of these youngsters and show some sensitivity,” he added.
Samaiah decided not to let his younger son Ravi take admission in the BEd course at the University of Hyderabad. “The circumstances and conditions here would have killed him, too. I admitted him in Nizam College. He is preparing for the state civil services exams.”
Standing in front of a crowd of students on Friday, Samaiah appealed to the university to show compassion and sensitivity towards Dalit students and take steps to prevent suicides.