Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Hyderabad Dalit scholars call Modi outrage against cow vigilantes dishonest, ask: Why no action against ministers?

By Our Representative
Three Dalit research students of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), all of them colleagues of Rohith Vemula, forced to commit suicide allegedly because of saffron pressure early this year, have called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest “outrage” against cow vigilantes as “dishonest”.
The scholars, Dontha Prashanth, Vijay Pedapudi and Seshaiah Chemudugunta, belong to the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), and were reportedly “socially boycotted” along with Rohith ahead of the latter’s suicide.
In a letter addressed to Modi, the scholars said, “We heard with disbelief, and a bit of amusement, the speech that you delivered on August 7, 2016 in Hyderabad, where you condemned cow protectors, who attacked Dalits in your home state of Gujarat.”
Modi said, “What is the reason we torture our Dalit brothers? What right do you have? The section which has suffered for centuries, will you force them to suffer more? Be wary of ‘nakli’ (fake) gau rakshaks, they have nothing to do with cow. Governments should crack down on them.” Addressing these ‘nakli’ cow protectors, added, “Attack me, shoot me, not Dalits.”
The scholars said, “We find it ironic that you chose to say these words a few kilometres from where fake cow protectors and fake nationalists from your party forced a brilliant Dalit scholar to take his own life.”
The letter added, “Ministers in your own cabinet Sushma Swaraj and Thawarchand Gehlot started the rumour campaign that Rohith was not a Dalit. Another Union Minister VK Singh called Rohith, and all of us in the ASA, anti-national. Such a campaign had been on ever since his martyrdom.”
The letter recalled, “In Hyderabad, when we Dalit research scholars started quoting from the writings of Babasaheb Ambedkar, we were branded as anti-nationals by Bandaru Dattatreya, a minister in your own Cabinet. No action was taken against him.”
It added, “When we organized 125th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Dr Ambedkar with Prakash Ambedkar, his grandson, chief guest, he was prevented at the main gate of the university under the instruction of Podile Apparao, vice-chancellor, UoH.”
The letter said, “Apparao is an accused in crime No 20/2016 under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and abetment to suicide for the constant humiliation and harassment of five Dalit research scholars including Rohith. How can we Dalits dream of justice when Apparao enjoys the backing of a powerful leader like Venkaiah Naidu?”
The letter asked Modi, “Did all these things not cross your mind when you made your speech in Hyderabad this week? What happened in against Rohith and four of us was this: The entire government machinery waged a war against us and is still waging a war for speaking about Dr Ambedkar.”
The letter wondered, “Why did you not speak, when Smriti Irani spoke utter lies in Parliament (about Rohith not being a Dalit)? What action was taken when cabinet minIster Bandaru Dattatreya branded Ambedkarites as anti-nationals and influenced MHRD to write five letters putting pressure on the university management to take action against Ambedkarites?”
Calling the present situation in the UoH “grave”, the Dalit scholars in their nearly 2,000 word letter said, Prof V Krishna, an able administrator, who started reforms in admissions leading to the increased intake of marginalized sections, was forced to resign from his position as Controller of Examinations. Dr Sreepathi Ramudu resigned from his post as head, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy. And, several SC/ST faculties tendered resignation to their administrative positions.
Things did not stop here, the letter said: “Dr KY Ratnam, head, Centre for Ambedkar Studies, has been targeted by Apparao and was also sent to jail on false charges along with another faculty, Dr Tathagat Sen Gupta and 25 students.”
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Read full letter to PM HERE

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