Academics protest Rohith Vemula’s death

Statement by concerned scholars

The suicide of Rohith Vemula is now the subject of a ridiculous inquiry to be conducted by a Committee set up by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. The real reason and the politics behind it are clear to those who are willing to open their eyes. As academics, we are concerned that such a situation should prevail in Universities, and wish to register our protest.

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai was to be screened at the University of Hyderabad. The action was planned by the Ambedkar Students’ Association. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, student goons of the RSS, used force to try and halt this. Dalit students were subjected to verbal abuse as well as physical force. As a result of agitations the ABVP had to apologise in writing. This was what caused such tremendous heartburn to the Hindutva forces. While the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai has taken place in various parts of the country, and has also given rise to conflicts in various parts of the country, it is in UoH alone that the consequences turned so aggressive with full participation of the top echelons of the University. The new Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao Podile, had five PhD students suspended. They were subjected to social ostracism as well. Thrown out of hostel, debarred from entering library, administrative spaces, they were hounded in a way that no administration has hounded any upper caste student in our memory. It is also reported that an MHRD letter designated them anti-national for opposing the hanging of Yakub Memon. The MHRD, today  proclaiming autonomy of Universities, was goading UoH through several letters to take action against the ASA. Rohith had even written a letter to the Vice Chancellor a couple of weeks ago, where he suggested the University provide means of committing suicide to Dalit students. Even after this the authorities did nothing. And after the suicide, the police acted in a brutal and shameless manner, grabbing the body of Rohith and disposing of it in secrecy instead of handing it over to his relatives. 

As a result, we need to conclude the following:

         That while other conflicts, such as over communalism, over a host of issues, do remain important, when they are fought with Dalits at one end, the attitude of government and authorities becomes far more aggressive.

         That there is a generalised hostility to Dalits, and a great insensitivity to the burdens they carry, which is why the Hindutva offensive against the ASA could proceed so far with so little protest from across the country.

This should once again force us to open our eyes, as incidents repeatedly, whether the suicide of Chuni Kotal in 1992, or the death of Balmukund Bharti, again by suicide, or so many other cases should have, that while formally the Constitution of India declares the end of casteism, in reality Brahmanism is rampant, and Dalits today have to fight the same battle as Shambuk or Ekalavya. If we are really sincere in desiring democracy and substantive equality, we must stand up and be counted in the struggle against casteism.

We demand:

●Removal of Smriti Irani as the Minister in charge of a Department that  wrote repeated letters to UoH demanding punishment of so-called anti-national students.

●Removal of the Vice Chancellor and his punishment for casteism, and for abetting suicide.

●Action against all those using casteist abuse on social media against the ASA.        


Signatories:

  1. Sumit Sarkar
  2. Tanika Sarkar
  3. Achin Vanaik
  4. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University
  5. Soma Marik, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhavan, West Bengal State University
  6. Abhijit Kundu, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University
  7. Maroona Murmu, Jadavpur University
  8. Kalyan Das, Presidency University
  9. Anuradha Roy, Jadavpur University
  10. Samantak Das, Jadavpur University
  11. Abhijit Gupta, Jadavpur University
  12. Sudeshna Banerjee, Jadavpur University,
  13. Suchetana Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University
  14. Samir Karmakar, Jadavpur University
  15. Nilanjana Gupta, Jadavpur University
  16. Sanjoy Kumar Saha, Jadavpur University
  17. Nupur Dasgupta, Jadavpur University
  18. Sujata  Tarafdar, Jadavpur University,
  19. Nandini Saha, Jadavpur University
  20. Mahitosh Mandal, Presidency University
  21. Debajit Dutta, Jadavpur University
  22. Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
  23. Sujit Kumar Mandal, Jadavpur University
  24. Keshab Bhattacharya, Jadavpur University
  25. Rochana Das, Jadavpur University
  26. Gautam Gupta, Jadavpur University
  27. Mahidas Bhattacharya, Jadavpur University
  28. Abhijit Roy, Jadavpur University
  29. Partha Pratim Ray, Jadavpur University
  30. Epsita Halder, Jadavpur University
  31. Proyash Sarkar, Jadavpur University
  32. Atreyi Dasgupta, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Hematology and Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine, USA
  33. Chandak Sengoopta, Birbeck College, University of London
  34. Tithi Bhattacharya, University of Purdue
  35. Bill Mullen, University of Purdue
  36. Abha Dev Habib, Miranda House, Delhi University
  37. Neshat Qaiser, Jamia Milia Islamia University
  38. Rina Ramdev, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University
  39. Surajit Mukhopadhyay, WBNUJS
  40. Gaurang Sahay, TISS, Mumbai
  41. Padma Velaskar, TISS, Mumbai
  42. Monami Basu, Delhi University
  43. Mrityunjay Yadavendu, Delhi University
  44. Naveen Gaur, Dyal Singh College, Delhi University
  45. Nandita Narain, St. Stephens College, Delhi University.
  46. Pradip Basu, Presidency University
  47. Saikat Sinha Roy, Jadavpur University
  48. Anindya Sengupta, Jadavpur University
  49. Partha Sarathi Bhaumik, Jadavpur University
  50. Rimi B. Chatterjee, Jadavpur University
  51.  Shashi Sekhar Singh, Satyavati College, Delhi University
  52.  Mihir Pandey, Ramjas College, Delhi University
  53. Radrashish Chakraborty, KMC, Delhi University
  54. Roopa Dhawan, Ramjas College, Delhi University
  55. Chitra Joshi, IP College, Delhi University
  56. Debaditya Bhattacharya, Nivedita College, University of Calcutta
  57. Indrani Talukdar, BITS Pilani, Goa
  58. Vinita Chandra, Ramjas College, Delhi University
  59.  Nandini Chandra, Delhi University
  60. Mithuraaj Dhusiya,  Delhi University
  61. Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, formerly in CSSSC
  62. Samarpita Mitra, Jadavpur University
  63. Tilottama Mukherjee,  Jadavpur University
  64. Arabinda Samanta, Burdwan University
  65. Niladri R. Chatterjee, Kalyani University
  66. Priyanka Bhattacharya, Doon School
  67. Sreejith Kalandy, Mangalkote Government General Degree College
  68. Pranav Jani, Ohio State University, USA
  69. Paramita Bhattacharjee Chakraborti, Jadavpur University
  70. Partha Pratim Basu, Jadavpur University
  71. Rina Ghosh, Jadavpur University

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