For Rohith, a song of defiance

A Dalit compatriot killed himself for dignity, says former Trinamool MP Kabir Suman.

January 19, 2016 05:45 pm | Updated September 23, 2016 01:38 am IST - Kolkata

While there is no demonstration in Bengal, following the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the prolific songwriter and protest singer Kabir Suman has composed, sung and uploaded a 63-second song on social media on Tuesday evening. The song - “For Rohith” - targeted Hindu nationalists but addressed Rohit Vemula. Mr. Suman was a MP of Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha from 2009-2014. He has not mentioned Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya in the song.

In the song, Suman has appealed to the late PhD scholar of the University of Hyderabad “to hang himself”, which is used as a refrain. The song then suggests how Rohith could have survived. “Raise the national flag…study Manusmriti…” it says. The final lines are: “Come back as a ghost and tell us [to] hang India.” Introducing the song on his personal website, kabirsumanonline.com, Suman wrote: “Rohith Vemula, a Dalit compatriot, who had to kill himself to find dignity in this country where the Hindu upper castes have for several thousand years insulted and brutalised our Dalits and Adivasis.” Suman used guitar and his voice to produce the song.

The poet-singer explained that since he is “sick and tired” of demonstrations and seminars he has composed the song. “What else can I do? Ever since I started to make songs I have tried to address the moments that affect me. Today, I don't think I have to tell anybody about Rohith. He killed himself. A rope. Well, yet another victim,” the singer-songwriter said.

Kabir Suman entered into Bengal’s music scene in the early 90s and almost always remained in the news. Often compared with protest singers of the west, Suman acknowledges influence of the east and the west on his songs. He has composed thousands of songs in Bengali to highlight the plight of the under privileged and the oppressed in the country and the State, embarrassing the political party that he represented in Lok Sabha, the TMC. Suman is presently close to the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her role against Hindu nationalists, he claimed earlier.

“For Rohith” was released on Tuesday evening and slowly spreading over audio-sharing and social networking sites.

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