Join the Protest Against the BJP / ABVP for their Role in Suicide of Dalit Scholar, Rohit Vemula
Date: January 20, 2016
Time: 6.30 to 8 pm
Venue: Tilak Putla, Mahatma Phule Mandai, Pune
Rohit Vemula, a second year Ph. D. Dalit scholar of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) committed suicide in the afternoon of 17th January. He was found hanging in his room. He was among the five Dalit students who had been rusticated from the university and forced to vacate their hostel rooms. They were sitting on dharna in the campus for the last 10 days.
All these students were members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), a leading student wing of HCU, which decided to screen a film about the Muzaffarnagar riots. The ABVP tried to stall the screening and, in the process, Susheel Kumar, President of ABVP (the student wing of the BJP) unit of the HCU, passed certain derogatory remarks on ASA students on Facebook. There was considerable outrage among the University students over his remark, and eventually, he submitted a written apology for the same in the presence of security officials on August 3, 2015.
To everyone’s surprise, the next day, the BJP launched a vicious campaign to malign the ASA. Susheel along with his brother who is a member of Bharathiya Janata Yuva Morcha (another BJP outfit) started to levy false allegations that both of them had been beaten up by ASA students. The BJP MLC, Ramachandran Rao, met the then Vice Chancellor R.P. Sharma, who subsequently constituted an Enquiry committee under chairmanship of Prof. Alok Pandey.
The committee found that there was no evidence of Susheel Kumar being beaten up by ASA students, and also reported that the matter had been settled amicably with the writing of the apology letter by Susheel Kumar. But overruling the committee’s report, the Proctorial Board of the HCU suspended leading ASA activists, Dontha Prashanth, Rohith Vemula, Vijay Kumar, Seshu Chemudugunta and Sunkanna, stating that they had abused and beaten Susheel Kumar. ASA students protested against this, following which the then Vice Chancellor R.P. Sharma personally intervened in the matter, and revoked the suspension of the ASA students.
The BJP leaders continued to mount pressure on the University authorities. Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor retired, and the BJP got opportunity to appoint a new, more amenable Vice Chancellor, Prof. Appa Rao Podile. The new VC received a letter from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, forwarding a letter from Bandaru Dattatreya , Secunderabad MP and Union Minister of Labour and Employment. The MP in his letter alleged that the HCU was becoming a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics” as evident from the activities of Ambedkar Students Association, and appealed to Ms. Smriti Irani, Minister of Human Resources and Development, to intervene and “change this for better”.
The new VC, without constituting any fresh enquiry, suspended the students once again, and asked them to vacate their hostel rooms!
It is clear from this chain of events that the rustication of the students was not only illegal but unconstitutional and unjust. They were discriminated against by the VC and the University administration on account of their caste background and their political beliefs. Both of these are gross violations of constitutional and human rights. This is yet another incident in the growing undemocratic and intolerant atmosphere of cultural terrorism that that the right wing forces in this country are trying to create. It is this which ultimately led to Rohit Vemula to take the extreme step of committing suicide.
This suicide also brings to the fore the many cases of suicides of Dalit students in our institutes of higher learning due to harassment from casteist forces like the BJP and its student and youth wings, the ABVP and BJYM. While on the one hand, the BJP is attempting to appropriae the name of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar by showering praises on him and promising to build lavish memorials in his name, the real agenda of these Hindutvawadi forces gets exposed by these numerous cases of caste atrocities being unleashed by them to maintain Brahminical supremacy in Indian society.
We condemn the institutional harassment of Rohith Vemula and the other four students by the VC and administration of HCU. We demand that Bandaru Dattatreya, Union Minister of Labour and Employment, be dismissed fromt the Cabinet, theVice Chancellor of Hyderabad University, Prof. Appa Rao Podile, be dismissed, and both, together with Susheel Kumar and his brother, leaders of the ABVP and BJYM, be arrested for harassing and forcing Rohit Vemula to commit suicide.
Dr. Abhijit Vaidya, Socialist Party (India)
Justice Kolse Patil, Lokshashan Andolan, Desh Bachao Aghadi
Com. B.J. Kerkar, Mukta Manohar, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist)
Neeraj Jain, Lokayat
Suniti S.R., National Alliance of People’s Movements
Com. Chandrakant Tiwari, All India Insurance Employees Union, Pune Unit.
Rahul Pokle, Rashtra Seva Samuh.
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