An Year Of Continued Denial Of Justice For Rohith Vemula
Caste Based Discrimination Must End Now In Educational Institutions Towards Equitable Democratic Spaces
Hyderabad / New Delhi, January 17th 2017 : It’s a year since Rohith Vemula gave up his life in the struggle against caste discrimination and Brahminical prejudices and practices dominating spaces of Higher education in the country. His death caused a major uproar in the country and gave strength to students coming forward resisting the same and to various ongoing agitations across the country in different universities. His words still continue to haunt and remind us of the complex social structures and deep fissures and inherent inequality in the society. He said, “… the value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing…. My birth is my fatal accident….“
If we look back, nothing seems to have changed in last year, Najeeb Ahmed remains missing from JNU for more than two months; eleven students remain suspended for raising voice against the administration and teachers are facing action too for supporting students and their voices; in another central university in Hyderabad, EFLU, five Dalit students have been suspended for raising issues of caste based discrimination; in BHU seven students have been rusticated for demanding 24×7 library facilities; women students continue to face restrictive measures across the country in various universities; and the doors for commercialization of the higher education is being opened through the allowing of corporate investments and the dismal status of the primary and secondary education in the country shows no signs of improvement. The rise and growth of ABVP is being supported and facilitated by the government in Centre and State and the agenda of saffornisation of the education and educational institutions is gaining strength everyday. However, the year has also seen an increase in resistance from the progressive forces and students community at large, and Rohith’s sacrifice has united the students community from various varsities resisting the discrimination and brahminical prejudices and practices.
Our collective struggle for #JusticeForRohith remains unfulfilled since past one year as none of the culprits have been punished and in fact government appointed committees continue to peddle lies and half truth about Rohith’s caste and what happened preceding to his death. These are not going to deter the students and Dalits community in their resolve for an equal space within the university campuses and in the society at large. The heightened consciousness and realization today has helped coming together of the students community, dalit struggles and other identity and issue based struggles together to work for annihilation of caste and fight the caste based discrimination. The hidden discrimination in the ‘merit’ based institutions of the higher education, media, other professional bodies, civil society spaces, are constantly being exposed and challenged.
Government on its own part have done and reacted with violence, vengeance and vilification of the struggle and bestowing of rewards on the perpetrators. In HCU, Radhika Vemula, Rohit’s mother, till date hasn’t been able to visit the ‘Rohith Smarak’ inside the campus; Rohith’s friends continue to be persecuted; and on the other hand VC Prof Appa Rao was recently felicitated. These practices are similar to what’s happening in other universities. Smriti Irani, former minister of HRD was shunted to another Ministry but that hasn’t changed the nefarious design of those in the power. We condemn every such attempt of this government and vow to continue fighting along with others.
We want to reiterate our support for the call of enactment of the ‘Rohith Act’ for ending caste based discrimination within the educational institutions and fasten the investigation into the circumstances which led to his suicide and punish those responsible for it.