Hyderabad: The question of caste discrimination in educational institutions has not vanished; it manifests time and again in the form of student suicides. While Rohith Vemula’s suicide in 2016 sparked national outrage, such incidents still continue, with suicides of students like Payal Tadvi and Fathima Lateef being the most recent cases.

Dr. Payal Tadvi, a student of BYL Nair hospital Mumbai, was found hanging in her hostel room, citing caste discrimination from her seniors. Her parents, Abeda Tadvi and Salim Tadvi joined Radhika Vemula at University of Hyderabad on the occasion of Rohith Shahadath Din on January 17.

“From our community, very less students go for higher education. Payal was the first girl from our community to do her MD, and she was really happy to join Mumbai for higher studies,” said Abeda Tadvi, mother of Payal Tadvi.

She further added how the parents had no inkling of the sufferings Payal had to face at the hands of her seniors. “We have no words to describe how much Payal has suffered. They had used such dirty words against her. Now, we just have one thought: we don’t want to lose anyone more to such discrimination. This is why we have come all the way here,” added Payal’s mother.

Pointing fingers at the BJP government for the rising student suicides in the country, Rohith Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula said, “Even after Rohith, institutional murders of students in the name of caste discrimination has not stopped. If we don’t come together to fight this fascist regime, we may lose more Rohiths, Pranays, Payals and Najeebs. I can understand BJP’s politics a lot more better now. They are responsible for the institutional murders in this country.”

Professor K Laxminarayana highlighted how students from marginalised communities struggle to get into premier institutes, where they are again subjected to torture in the form of discrimination. “Caste discrimination starts from schools itself, and the drop-out rate of students from Scheduled Castes is 60%. It is almost understood that government schools, where there is no quality education, is meant for students from marginalised communities. Unless this problem is addressed, people will keep asking why do people from backward castes need education.”

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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