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Another Rohith Vemula in the making? Dalit scholar protests 'unjust' Wardha Hindi varsity

By Dr Abhay Kumar* 

PhD scholar Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar of the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, is being discriminated against, harassed and denied his right to education by the university administration.
Unfortunately, Rajneesh has been asked to make changes and modifications to his PhD thesis, long after he submitted his work to be sent to external examiners. He followed all due processes and his supervisor was satisfied with his work.
As far as the university system goes, comments and objections may be raised by external experts about the submitted thesis. But in the case of Rajneesh, the university administration is raising objections. The same administration allowed him to submit the work earlier.
Note the level of lawlessness that Rajneesh was one day asked by the university administration to modify his work long after it was submitted: he was given the diktat that he needs to work under a new supervisor!
The arbitrary decision of the university administration raises several questions. First, if the thesis needs any modification, the suggestions should have come from the supervisor. The supervisor was satisfied and he signed the thesis and forwarded it for external evaluation.
However, his thesis was not sent to the external examination by the university administration. Under which law, the university authority is justified to raise such an objection when the candidate's supervisor had already forwarded it for external evaluation?
The case of Rajneesh shows that the university structure, which has been captured by communal and casteist forces, does not want an Ambedkarite scholar to complete his/her education and excel in academics and public life.
While the university administration is directly responsible for harassing Rajneesh, the so-called progressive and honourable professors of the university are silent about the case of caste-based discrimination and gross violation of equality within their campus.
Some may disagree with me but I have come to believe that the university mostly produces "the servants of the system" and the so-called honourable professors play their part in maintaining the status quo. The same professor shed tears about class-based inequality and violation of social justice in the classroom and seminar halls but when an Ambedkarite scholar is being harassed under their noses, they either remain silent or take the side of the administration.
However, the continuous struggle of Rajneesh is a ray of hope for us in this dark time. Many people are indeed made victims of the system but some of them decide to resist the unjust system till the last drop of their blood.
Rajneesh waged the battle inside the university and outside. He and his friends sat on a satyagraha on the campus. While the university administration has not paid any attention to his grievances, it sent its hoard of goons to threaten him to call off the strike. The communal and casteist goons came near his dharna site and raised anti-Ambedkarite slogans to intimidate him. The mob allegedly assaulted activists. Later, Ambedkar’s injured friends were sent to the hospital.
Despite all odds, Rajneesh continued with his strike and struggle.

Ambedkar's interview

Ambedkar has alleged in a youtube interview that he is being victimized by the university administration because of his Dalit identity.
Narrating his case, Ambedkar said his PhD thesis was submitted long back with all due process followed. His supervisor was satisfied with his work and he recommended the work for external evaluation.
But the university administration, instead of sending his work to external examiners and facilitating the process of the award of the degree, has so far kept the thesis to itself.
Months after the submission of the work, Ambedkar was told by the university to rework his thesis under a new supervisor. Ambedkar argued that such conditionality is arbitrary and against the rule and he is being victimized for being a Dalit as well as being a vocal person about the issues of social justice.
Amid this critical situation, Ambedkar continues fighting for social justice and democratisation of education. However, it cannot be ruled out that his life as well as his career is under threat. It appears not that an insensitive university system is pushing a Dalit scholar to meet the fate of Rohit Vemula.
*PhD (Modern History), Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This is the edited version of two separate articles by Dr Abhay Kumar distributed by Dalits Media Watch



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