Citizens aggrieved and mourn scholar’s suicide
We the concerned citizens of the country are deeply aggrieved by the suicide of the Dalit Scholar in the Hyderabad University Campus, which we consider as institutional murder.
In this context Chhattisgarh Nagrik Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti called the concerned citizens from more than 30 social and people’s organisations and people in huge numbers joined at Ambedkar Chowk in Raipur to mourn and protest the death of Dalit scholar. Candles were lit at the Ambedkar statue. The condolence meeting was conducted by Sanjeev Khudshah. Dr. Pradeep Kuma, Dharamraj Mahapatra , Arun Pannalal, Ramkrishna Jangre, Durga Jha and other respected citizens who condemned the conditions leading to the death of Dalit scholar. A moment of silence was kept and a silent procession was organised where the people marched from the Ambedkar statue to the Jaistambh Chowk. People put forth their views through posters and banners. The continuous persecution and sexual and physical assault of the Dalit and Adivasi women by the security forces in the Bastar region was also condemned.
The conditions and the systematic persecution of the scholars by the Hyderabad Central University which led one of the scholar to take the extreme step were condemned.
Rohith Vemula – a Dalit scholar- was expelled from the Hyderabad University Campus a month ago along with four others belonging to the Dalit community. The five scholars had been on strike for the past few weeks after expulsion. The students of Hyderabad Central University too had been protesting the biased manner of action taken against them.
Their crime and reason for expulsion-
Rohit and other students and scholars were part of the group Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) and had long been involved in organizing and mobilising the students in the campus around issues of caste and religious identity. The group would hold meetings, seminars, documentary screenings in campus protesting, expressing dissent and raising voices on caste issues, religious questions, issues of communal polarisation etc in the campus spaces.
Expressing dissent and raising voice for the oppressed and marginalised in an academic space in a democratic manner did not go down well with the Hyderabad University Administration. After escalating tension between the two students groups ABVP and ASA, the university acted up. Allegedly instigated by the political class of BJP, Union Minister Bandaru Datttreya, the scholars were expelled from the University. Students of the Hyderabad University Campus have been claiming and protesting that the puppet VC and University authorities conducted flawed investigation favouring the ABVP students and punishing the Dalit Scholars at the behest of Union Minister.
“My birth is my fatal accident”
The five Dalit scholars have been on a strike since past few weeks protesting their expulsion. Until Rohit hanged himself.
In his last letter he writes “My birth is my fatal accident.. Make sure I get my pending fellowship amount of one lakh seventy five thousand”. Rohit had not received his fellowship for past seven months which the administration claimed was a procedural delay.
The incidence is yet another one in the series of recent incidents of outrageous persecuting of the marginalised and those who dissent and raise voices against the Hindutva/Brahmanical forces, powerful state or the corporates. The death of the AIIMS scholar last year, FTII strike, persecution of Ambedkar Periyar Circle and so on are part of the same sequence.
Indian Constitution imbibes the value of justice, peace, equality, fraternity and freedom. All these values were to be established constitutionally and democratically without the pressures of caste, community, gender, culture and religion. 68 years after independence in the light of situation of the Dalits, minorities, Adivasis, women, Poor, Labourers and others on the margins, it would not be correct to say that Indian Society is tolerant and democratic. The attacks on the marginalise, at times through state support has intensified noticeably ever since the current government has come to power. The increasing communal tension, attacks and hatred acts on the minorities and the Dalit Adivasis is destroying the social and communal fabric of democracy. Chhattisgarh is a classical example for this too where the Christian minorities are under the attack of Hindutva elements.
What is more interesting to note in recent times is that most of these attacks seem to be patronised and protected by the corporate brahmanical forces. There seems to be a clear collusion between religion and political forces as also the corporate/ imperialist forces. One of the recent example is the sexual assault of Adivasi women by the armed forces in Bastar region where the state is fighting to take away the land from adivasis and hand it over to corporate.
It is no secret that ever since the BJP has come to power it has been intensively trying to saffronise the academic and other institution through academics, curriculum, appointing heads and meddling in student politics. In the case of Hyderabad University it was the BJP Union Minister who wrote a letter to HRD ministry, instigated the puppet VC to act against the Dalit scholars, finally leading to their expulsion while no action was initiated against the ABVP.
We vehemently condemn the growing saffronization in academic and cultural institutions in the country which punishes anyone raising a voice of dissent, with the support of state
- Provide compensation to the family of Rohit and release his pending scholarship of seven months of which accounts to Rs. One lakh seventy five thousand.
- Order a free and fair inquiry into the circumstances leading to death of the Dalit Scholar and the role of University administration, BJP leader Union Minister Bandaru Datttreya and the students from ABVP.
- Arrest the culprits including the BJP Union Minister and the VC.
- Immediately revoke the expulsion of the other Dalit Scholars.
- Stop saffronisation of academic spaces and institutions sponsored by the political class.
- Institutions especially academic spaces should be more accommodating to the needs and issues of Dalit Adivasi and students from marginalised background and take measures and steps to include it in their institutional setup.
- Dissent in a democratic and institutional spaces is the right of every citizen of the country. What is important is that this dissent is allowed to operate freely and without the protection of a biased political class.
Our fight and resistance is for the very restoration of the equality and democratic freedom imbibed in the constitution and for the very existence of our being in the country.
Supporting Organisation- Dalit Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh Picchda Samaaj, Dalit Study Circle,Dalit Movement Association, Jaati Unmulan Andolan, Bhartiya Samvedhaanik Samaaj, Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikaar Manch, Mahila Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagruti Sangh, Mahasamund, Sabla Dal, Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan, Rashtriya Adivaasi Sangathan, Birsa Ambedkar Chhatra Sangathan, Sanyukt Trade Union Council, Alliance Defending Freedom , India, Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, Khistiya Jan Jagran Manch, Young Men Christian Association, Raipur; Chhattisgarh Christian Fellowship, Muslim Khidmat Sangh, Young Muslim Social Welfare Scoiety, Chhattisgrah Baitulmal Foundation, Tathagat Sandesh Parivar, Akhil Bharatiya Samta Sainik Dal, Chhattisgrah Lok Swatantra Sangathan, Insaf, Chhattisgarh, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, Samajik Nyaya Manch, Chhattisgrah Nagrik Vikas Manch, Sirsa, Chhattisgarh