ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hyderabad University's Casteist Actions

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the authorities of the Central University of Hyderabad for their caste-based victimisation of Dalit students, which, on 17 January 2016, resulted in Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar in science technology and society studies, committing suicide. Rohith was one of the five Dalit research scholars, student leaders and activists of Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA), who were expelled from the hostel, prohibited from entering the administrative building and common spaces on the university campus as per orders issued by the vice chancellor on 16 December 2015.

Let us not forget that such discrimination is an everyday reality. Statistically, two in 100 Dalits make it to institutes of higher education, and have to face discrimination at every step. The documentary Death of Merit, based on data generated by Dalit students across universities, revealed that between 2007 and 2012, 19 Dalit students in premier institutes of higher education in India committed suicide as a result of traumatic experiences of being victims of caste-based discrimination. Of these, four were from Hyderabad. Also as per Times of India, March 2013 report, there were nine suicides in the universities in Hyderabad of which eight students were from Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes (SC/ST/OBC) communities and one from a minority community. In 2014, Aniket Ambhore, fourth year electrical engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, committed suicide. Caste-based discrimination causing tremendous stress was cited as a reason. In a typical illustration of the administration’s casteist character, when, after a Dalit research scholar Senthil Kumar’s suicide in the University of Hyderabad, the committee protesting against the university administration demanded an enquiry and compensation, the registrar’s response was that there was no such provision in the university guidelines. How little has changed is apparent from the fact that in 2002, when 10 Dalit scholars were rusticated by the University of Hyderabad administration for questioning corruption, the chief warden responsible for the action was none other than the current vice chancellor!

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