29th January 2016
A team of activists sent by the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) met a number of faculty members, scholars and agitating students of Hyderabad central University and spoke to them yesterday. They also met some of the students punished by the University authorities with Rohit Vemula who is now no more.
The team members are:
1.Prof. A.Marx, Chair Person, NCHRO, Chennai
2.Ko. Sugumaran, Ex-Co Member, NCHRO, Puducherry
3.Mohamed Abid, State Coordinator, NCHRO, Telangana,
4. Syed Moinudeen, State General Secretary
6.Adv. Jaya vindhyala. Gen. Secy PUCL, Telengana State.
Prime aim of the visit is to express solidarity with the students and teachers of HCU fighting for justice and pay homage to Rohit Vemula, the victim of caste prejudices and religious intolerance.
After the long discussions we held with these people and after pursuing the relevant documents we arrive at the following conclusions.
1.We consider Rohit’s death not just as a mere suicide of a Dalit scholar. We describe it a kind of institutional killing. There are so many expert committee reports by eminent persons such as Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat and Sasheej Hegde about the caste discriminations that prevail in higher education institutions. Many remedial measures and recommendations to eradicate caste discriminations within the campuses are given in them. There is also an Andhra Pradesh high court order regarding this. But the university authorities took no interest to implement neither the Sukhdeo Committee report nor the court instructions. There is no proper grievances redressal committee to solve the problems faced by the students. It is said that about nine students have committed suicide in the past seven years in this university and it is very sad to note that all of these students are from Dalit communities.
2.Rohit is not merely a victim of caste prejudices and insidious caste practices. He is also a victim of religious intolerance nurtured by the NDA government and Sangh Parivar outfits. It was on the basis of a false complaint given by the local ABVP leader Susheel Kumar a case was foisted against Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) functionaries including Rohit. Rohit was responsible for creating Dalit – Muslim solidarity within the campus against the hate campaign unleashed against minorities. He organized a protest against the banning of screening a film on Muzaffar Nagar riots in Delhi. ASA is one among the many organizations all over India which protested against the hanging of Yakub Memon. The BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao, central ministers Bangaru Dattareya and Smiruti Rani gave complaints against ASA.The Human Resource Minister wrote at least four letters to the university authorities and she even went to the extent of branding ASA students anti national and casteist. After these instigations the university authorities took action against Rohit and four other Dalid scholars. So this is a clear case of religious intolerance practiced by the present central government.
3.The vice chancellor and other university authorities like the proctor lack moral strength to withstand the political pressure. There are many lapses in dealing the complaint against ASA students. It is argued that Rohit has not indicted any one for his suicide in his last note. But in his December 18 letter addressed to the VC, Rohit clearly indicts the vice chancellor for not taking proper action on their requests and went to the extent of asking the vice chancellor to provide caynide to to him to commit suicide. The HR minister Smiruti Irani lied before the press that the sub committee formed by the university to enquire about the clash between ASA and ABVP was headed by a dalit professor. The dalit professor Prakash Babu immediately denied it and said that he was only a coopted member in the committee and it was headed by a non dalit professor. The minister din’t express any regret for this till date.
4.Rohit was not receiving his research fellowship for the past seven months. It was from this money he sustained himself and was helping his aged mother and brother. After he and other four ASA members were sent out of the hostel they were not allowed to enter anywhere in the campus except the library and their respective departments. Even after these dalit students were pushed to the extent of living in a makeshift arrangement inside tha campus the university authorities didn't care to negotiate with them.
5.It is sad that the police didn’t even allowed the fellow students to pay last homages to Rohit Vemula. The police literally hijacked his body and burnt it in a crematorium. We condemn this attitude and behavior of Telangana police.
6.Thus this is a clear case of institutional apathy and Rohit is a victim of castism and religious bigotry. As a damage control exercise the students wing of BJP is now trying to dilute the issue by saying that Rohit’s suicide has nothing to do with caste discrimination. In support of their cause they also bring to the stage the father of Rohit who has abandoned Rohit’s family long before. He says that he belongs to a BC community. But the supreme court has clearly ruled that in such cases in which one of the parents belongs to a BC community the caste status of the child is to be determined from the the actual living condition of the child and by whom it has been brought up. The abandoned wife and mother of Rohit is living with dalits as untouchables and as per the apex court ruling they all belong to SC community. We condemn this dirty politics of the Sangh Parivar.
1. The central ministers Smiruti Irani and Bandaru Dattereya should be ousted from the minister posts. The vice chancellor Appa Rao and thae interim vice chancellor also should be removed from their posts. Action should be taken against all of them under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. The ABVP leader Sushil Kumar and the MLC Ramachandra Rao should also be booked under the same act.
2. The cases against the remaining four Dalit students should be withdrawn and their suspensions should also been revoked unconditionally. A compensation amount of Rs 50,00,000 should be given to the family of Rohit Vemula. A permanent job should be given to one of the family members of Rohit.
3. We welcome the judicial enquiry on the whole episode. But the name of the judge and the terms and conditions of the enquiry is not yet revealed. This should be done immediately.
4. Sukhadeo Thorat committee report should be implemented immediately all over India. A permanent grievances redressal committee should be instituted in all higher education institutions with enough number of Dalit representations in it.
5. The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act should be suitably amended incorporating penal provisions for practicing discrimination and other atrocities against SC/ST students in Educational Institutions.