A 35-year-old employee of a private firm in Bengaluru from Uttar Pradesh, identified as Vivek Raj, reportedly died by suicide in his flat just hours after filing a police complaint and releasing a video on YouTube, alleging caste discrimination at his workplace.
Raj, worked as a visual merchandiser at Lifestyle International Private Limited in Bengaluru’s Brookfield. In his video, which he posted shortly before his tragic death, Vivek expressed the discrimination he faced and his frustration at being unable to fight against it any longer.
Lifestyle International Pvt Ltd stated to The Indian Express that Vivek had raised a complaint through their internal process, which was thoroughly investigated in accordance with their policies. They claimed that appropriate actions were taken based on the investigation’s outcomes. As the matter is currently under police investigation, the company assured their full cooperation. Though according to reports, Raj’s office had demanded his resignation by June 18, which seemed to be related to the complaint he had raised. Two of his colleagues have obtained bail, and one has been arrested in connection with the case.
Raj’s father, Rajkumar, filed a complaint in connection with his son’s death. Rajkumar, devastated by the loss of his only son, revealed that Vivek had called him a few times on the day of his death but had not mentioned the situation he was facing. Rajkumar lamented that with Vivek’s demise, he would now have to live alone for the rest of his life.
The Whitefield police have registered a case under Sections 34 and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to acts done by several persons with a common intention and abetment to suicide, respectively. Prior to his death, Vivek had filed a First Information Report (FIR) against three of his colleagues at the Marathahalli police station. He alleged caste-based discrimination by two senior members of the company and sought police action through his complaint.
According to various media reports, Raj had previously raised the issue of caste discrimination with his company’s HR department, but it was not properly escalated.
Raj also approched to the Marathahalli police station but only when an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) intervened did the Marathahalli police register an FIR based on his complaint.
In the eight-minute video Vivek posted online, he expressed his apologies and pride for his actions. He highlighted the difficulties faced when trying to challenge the system, whether in the government or private sector. Vivek cited corruption within the system and the harassment faced by individuals who attempt to seek justice. He said: “Let it be me who will start this revolution in the corporate industry. To the honourable Prime Minister of the country who is silent on many things which are going wrong… wrestlers are protesting. I know you will not speak on that. At least I request you, to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, SC/ST Commission, police to be more vigilant, to cooperate, to come up with a better grievance resolution system. If my sacrifice brings it, let it be, so be it.”