By Arré Bench Oct. 13, 2020
It’s been over 10 days since 28-year-old aspiring doctor, Bhagwat Devangan, took his life in his college hostel room. His family now alleges he was ragged by classmates for being a “quota student”. Can our country ever shake off this spectre of caste?
Over 10 days have passed since a 28-year-old aspiring doctor, Bhagwat Devangan, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his hostel room, in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Devangan was studying at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose medical college, where he endured bullying and torture from his seniors, his brother has alleged.
“My brother was used to staying by himself since he was in Class 6. He was self-reliant and took good care of himself. Only after coming to Jabalpur, he suddenly faced a lot of humiliation and discrimination,” Prahlad said in a report by The Wire.
Bhagwat Devangan, a 28-year old medical student, has died by suicide in Jabalpur, Chhattisgarh. His family has alleged caste-based harassment, ragging and mental torture from his seniors. Bhagwat belonged to Devangan caste, an OBC community. #JusticeForBhagwat pic.twitter.com/2tKByujPct
— Tejas Harad (@h_tejas) October 10, 2020
Devangan’s family believe that the root of the discrimination he faced was his caste. Though he had gained admittance to the institute in the general category, his seniors would mock him as a “quota student”, since he belonged to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. Devangan’s lower economic and social status compared to his peers in the college led them to torment him.
A report by BBC Hindi claims that he had already attempted suicide once, in July this year, by consuming sleeping pills. Back then, he had told his family about the abuse at the hands of his seniors, as well as filed an anonymous complaint with the college’s anti-ragging committee. But no action was taken.
How many more Shambukas are we going to lose to Brahminism?!
How much more thumbs of Ekalavyas are we going to let being cut?!#JusticeForBhagwat
— OBCs United (@OBCsUnited) October 10, 2020
The college’s anti-ragging committee, meanwhile, has denied that ragging played a role in Devangan’s suicide. However, Prahlad’s testimony of what his brother was facing cannot be discounted, particularly since the matter is still under investigation.
If true, the allegations that Devangan’s seniors targeted him because of his caste are troubling, given how these students are the future doctors and medical professionals of the country. Casteist behaviour is the opposite of modern thinking and scientific temper, which is something you would hope to see in a doctor.
How many more young Dalit Bahujan Adivasi lives will these killing fields of casteist educational institutions claim? Those who abetted and drove Payal Tadvi to take her own life are now allowed to continue their studies. There has to be stringent punishment. #JusticeForBhagwat https://t.co/2xpwS6vBWG
— meena kandasamy || இளவேனில் (@meenakandasamy) October 10, 2020
As long as unnecessary deaths like Devangan’s continue to take place, India cannot claim to have shaken off the spectre of caste.