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Dalit scholar suicide: Online site faces flak for selling t-shirts with Rohith’s face

Rohith, a PhD scholar from Hyderabad Central University, was found hanging in his hostel room last week. He had committed suicide in protest against the treatment meted out to him by the administration.

Written by Aranya Shankar | Delhi | January 29, 2016 1:53:48 am
Rohith Vermula, JNUSU on Rohith Vermula, Rohith Vermula terrorist, Rohith Vermula anti nationa, Hyderabad University, Congress politics on Dalit suicide, Dalit suicide The protesting students have alleged that RSS members disrupted their gathering and attacked them. (PTI Photo)

A Delhi-based e-commerce website faced the ire on social media for putting up on sale T-shirts printed with a picture of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula and a quote from his suicide note.

Rohith, a PhD scholar from Hyderabad Central University, was found hanging in his hostel room last week. He had committed suicide in protest against the treatment meted out to him by the administration.

Krantistore, a website based in East of Kailash that caters to college-going youth, had put on sale T-shirts in grey and white, with the quote “I’m happy dead than alive” printed and Vemula’s face sketched in black.

As soon as the post was put up last week, Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts targeting the website for “commercialising tragedy”, forcing them to take the product off the shelves.

“We make T-shirts which the youth would like to wear. We got a request from someone to print Rohith Vemula’s design; it wasn’t our decision. We have to respect our customers’ decisions, so we put up the design on sale. But as soon as we realised that we had generated such a controversy, we took it down. We’re no longer printing the t-shirts,” said Shahid Khan, founder of Krantistore and an alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Photos of the T-shirts, priced at a “discounted” rate of Rs 149, were also advertised on the site’s Facebook page and Twitter handle with the caption “Face of struggle Rohith Vemula. Buy exclusive t-shirts at Krantistore.com”.

In response to this, a post on Facebook read, “The sickening way in which people make money of dead bodies’ of our comrades. Shame on Krantistore! Not only for selling these horrid t shirts but for selling them with the tagline ‘I am happy dead than being alive’. Quoting from his suicide note out of context, they have proven that these capitalists are hand in glove with the casteist forces in the country thriving on sensationalism, making money of our misery.”

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