Friday, January 22, 2016

Part of Hindutva agenda? "Extraordinary" termination of Hyderabad Dalit students' suspension termed illegal

By Our Representative
The University of Hyderabad’s (UoH’s) “decision” to revoke the suspension of four Dalit students following country-wide protests against the suicide of their colleague and leader, Rohith Vemula, a 26-year-old research scholar, has been rejected -- because it allegedly comes with huge “ifs” and “buts”.
Close on the heels of the UoH Executive Council announcement, the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice of the UoH has questioned the its “legitimacy”.
The Executive Council, said the Committee in a statement, met “without attending to the protesting students who are on indefinite hunger strike”, that too “not inside the campus”. Worse, it added, the Executive Council issued a circular, not an order revoking the suspension.
“We outrightly reject this illegitimate circular since it came through a committee headed by vice-chancellor Prof Appa Rao Podile, who in our opinion is not the legitimate vice-chancellor anymore but in fact a criminal on the run”, the statement said.
The Committee said, instead of allowing the vice-chancellor to preside a meeting to “pass the objectionable resolution, he should immediate surrender to the police.”
The statement particularly took objection to the wordings of the circular, which said that the punishment was being terminated in the circumstances of "extraordinary situation".
Pointing out that this “apathy of the university administration”, it added, “The entire episode of inquiry was fabricated and implemented under the pressure from BJP-Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) and the university administration.”
“This led to the suspension, social boycott, and eventually the death of Rohith Vemula, while the University of Hyderabad administration is responsible for the mishap. It is shameful that our democratic protest for social justice is termed as an extraordinary situation”, the statement said.
The statement underlined, “Surely, this is not an extraordinary situation for the students! We were made vulnerable and horrendous targets of the BJP's Hindutva agenda. We seriously object and reject the word "termination" of punishment.”
The statement said, “The word termination entails that it was a just and a fair process of inquiry. Besides, the punishment order is considered legitimate.”
Condemning “this play with words and their attempt to sabotage the students’ movement”, it said, “We demand an unconditional and immediate revocation of the suspension.”
Pointing out that the vice-chancellor and the MHRD have been giving us an excuse that “the case is in the court”, the statement says, “more than 72 hours” have elapsed after the FIR was filed against Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, whose letter against the Dalit students “anti-national activities” triggered the suicide.
Also, the statement said, no action has been taken against other culprits, including the vice chancellor and ABVP president Susheel Kumar, on whose complaint the Union minister acted. Telangana police is “not arresting the culprits, who are booked under the 5C/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and for the abetment of suicide”.
Minutes of the HoU Executive Council held on January 21, 2016, put on HoU’s website, say, “Taking into account the extraordinary situation prevailing in the University, and after discussing the issue in detail, the Council resolved to terminate the punishment imposed on the students concerned with immediate effect.”
However, it added, “Further, it was resolved that this decision of the Council is subject to the verdict in the cases filed in the High Court, and the case registered in the Gachibolwi Police Station.”
The “punishment”, inflicted upon the five Dalit students on November 27, 2015 by the Executive Council, was about the decision “not to allow five PhD students to stay in hostels, apart from not permitting them to participate in students' union elections, enter the hostels, administrative building and other common places in groups, till they complete their respective courses/programmes at the University.”
Meanwhile, Sunkanna Velpula, one of the 5 Dalit students, rejected the Executive Council decision to “revoke” suspension saying, “They mentioned in the second paragraph that 'It is subject to the cases outside in the court', and we are not fools to get carried away by this announcement by the Executive Council.''

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