JNU research scholar Muthukrishnan who allegedly committed suicide on Monday evening, was a close friend of Rohith Vemula, another research scholar who had committed suicide in January 2016, students at University of Hyderabad said. Rohith’s suicide had sparked nationwide outrage over caste discrimination in university campuses.
Muthukrishnan also studied at University of Hyderabad, where Vemula committed suicide. His friends at the university said that soon after Vemula’s death, Muthukrishnan had written in his blog: “Dear anti-nationals, let me tell you, one day this nation’s leader is going to sell all. Just for a selfie and for a standing ovation from the outsiders. Hundreds and hundreds of Dappa Rao’s are going to kill thousands of Rohiths and they are going to say, ‘He/She was a gifted student’.”
He had added: “All the intellectuals from the marginalised communities will get arrested just for mocking fictional characters. At the same time, all the leading national institutes will be headed by people who cannot even clear the 10th standard exam. These people claim dissenters as anti-nationals and seditious. They are going to kill many Rohiths, like us, just for eating beef, for being rational, for being intellectually productive for the country. But we are the real sons of this land and after we are all killed, there will be no nation.”
Student leader Sannaki Munna said that in the last one year, Muthukrishnan, who also went by the name Krish, had participated in ‘Justice for Rohith Vemula’ movement. “Even though he left for JNU in July 2016, Krish was in touch with the students in UoH and used to express his solidarity,” he said.
Muthukrishnan came to UoH to participate in the first death anniversary of Rohith Vemula on January 17, 2017. On this occasion, he wrote about ’Discrimination in HCU: Their mechanism, genesis and development’. In this article, he expressed anguish over discrimination in the country’s top 10 universities. He recalled how Dalit research scholars were denied academic and hostel spaces. “Hope the unnatural institution and persistent discrimination will vanish one day the students unity keep their solidarity with Rohith Vemula demise,and the disappearance of Najeeb,” he wrote.
The news of Muthukrishnan’s death left his fellow students in University of Hyderabad shocked. Muthukrishnan had pursued his masters and M Phil in UoH and his friends there remember him as an active student with interest in films, literature and social issues. “He was a fan of Rajinikanth and used to imitate the superstar in his hostel room which was full of the Rajini’s posters,” said student leader Venkatesh Chowhan. “Muthukrishnan even changed his Facebook profile name to Rajini Krish,” Venkatesh told Hindustan Times.
Muthukrishnan belonged to a poor family in Salem, Tamil Nadu where his father works as a watchman at a private firm and his mother is a daily wage labourer. He also has three sisters. His friends say that after completing MA in History at UoH in 2012, he applied for Ph D in JNU, Delhi, but could not make it in the first three attempts. Meanwhile, he joined M Phil in UoH but discontinued it later when he got the admission in JNU in July 2016.