We — writers, scholars, students and teachers, assembled at the Ambedkar University, Delhi, on this day, January 20 2016, for the panel discussion on “Caste, Religion and Lived Culture”, during the release of the second issue of Guftugu, organised by the Ambedkar University, and Indian Writers’ Forum — wish to record our anguish, shock and protest at the sequence of events at the University of Hyderabad that led to the suspension of five dalit students and the suicide of the research student, Rohit Vemula.
We condemn in no uncertain terms the role played by the ABVP who brought false charges against the activists of the Ambedkar Students Association; Apparao Podile, the new Vice Chancellor of the university who acted more like a Hindutva ideologue than like an impartial head of a university; the Secunderabad MP and the central Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya who recommended punitive action against the dalit students even before he found out the truth of the allegations; the Department of Human Resources that intervened directly in the affairs of the University thereby endangering its autonomy; and all the regressive forces who have turned the university into a site of social exclusion that denies the dalit students their Right to Education and free expression. We are aggrieved that the students are being forced to bear this denial silently, and attacked by the authorities whenever they express their resentment at the inhuman treatment they receive from the upper castes. 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 from the Cabinet, along with the Vice Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile, from all the university positions and that both, together with Susheel Kumar and his brother, leaders of the ABVP and BJYM, be arrested for harassing and creating and abetting the circumstances that led to the suicide of Rohit Vemula. We also demand that the suspension of the students be revoked with immediate effect. We also demand a proper enquiry into similar atrocities and instances of discrimination, which has been getting more and more rampant in the recent months in the institutions of higher education across the country, by an impartial High Power Committee.