Protest against denial of reservation at AIIMS

Representation submitted to Prime Minister

NEW DELHI: The Forum for Rights and Equality, consisting of a group of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences’ faculty members, are protesting against what they claim to be denial of reservation at the Institute at all levels of recruitment and admission.
Members of the Forum submitted a representation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he came to preside over the 38 {+t} {+h} convocation at the Institute over the weekend.
“Denial of reservation has reached a new pinnacle under the current dispensations. What has previously been a subtle and refined mechanism of subverting the government policy of reservation by claiming non-availability or non-suitability of reserved category candidates has now become more stark and blatant, wherein meritorious faculty/resident/students are being adjusted in the reserved quota,” complained the letter submitted to Dr. Singh.
Some of the faculty members added that it was ironical to observe that all this was happening in the face of several amendments being passed in Parliament, that is aimed at making reservation policy more effective, and inclusive, and make its implementation more smooth and hassle free.
“There is an overall existing shortfall of representation of SC/ST/OBC communities in the faculty and other sectors in the Institute. The shortfall has to be filled by advertising the same reserved posts for at least three consecutive times. This obviously requires carry forward of posts, rather than filling them with general category candidates. The draft roster ignored the fact that reserved posts were filled by non-reserved post and there is a shortfall to be taken care of,” noted the letter submitted to the Prime Minister.
A section of the Institute faculty have also protested against the Prime Minister asking the Valiathan Committee report recommendation to be implemented at the Institute. “Implementation of the recommendation of this report is an attempt to commercialise and corporatise the Institute and take it out of reach of the common people,” said a senior faculty member.

( Source : The Hindu, Sunday, Oct 03, 2010 )

Wardha VC accused of being anti-dalit

NEW DELHI: When police officer and Hindi writer VN Rai joined as vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya at Wardha, there were great expectations from him. But now serious allegations have been made against him for being anti-Dalit, which he denies.
Dalit teachers and students of the university have called Rai a “secular-castesist”.

The latest relates to Rai’s action against Lela Karunyakara, director of the Balasahaeb Ambedkar Centre for Dalit and Tribal Studies, for participating in a candle light procession in the university on Ambedkar’s Mahaparinirvan Day. Rai sought an explanation from him on the ground that the processionists had raised “provocative casteist slogans”. Rai had maintained that such an act endangered peace and harmony in the campus.

In his detailed reply, Karunyakara, while narrating the age-old discrimination against Dalits, even by secularists, gave the context of Dalit assertion and explained that the slogans raised were not casteist but against casteism. He maintained that there was nothing wrong in what he did. Not satisfied with the reply, Rai in an order on December 31 charged Karunyakara with turning a fact-finding exercise into an “unwarranted platform of expression of your ill-conceived prejudices and egoist frustrations”.

Justifying his decision, Rai told TOI, “Senior faculty members told me that very abusive slogans were being used in the procession.”

(Source : Times of India,4 January 2010)

Professor quota red face for Centre

CHARU SUDAN KASTURI

New Delhi, Nov. 10: Less than one per cent of India’s central university professors are from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, the latest government data show.

The figure is just 10 per cent for teachers of all designations at these universities, implying more than half the faculty posts reserved for SC/STs on these campuses are vacant.

This despite a “special recruitment drive” launched by the Centre four years ago to fill vacant quota seats. The revelations cast a cloud over the government’s implementation of job quotas in education.

All central universities — like other government institutions — are required to reserve 15 per cent posts for the SCs and another 7.5 per cent for the STs.

But only 6.7 per cent of teachers at India’s central universities are SCs, and a mere 3.5 per cent are STs, according to the data collected by the human resource development (HRD) ministry from individual universities.

The data relate to 20 of India’s 23 central universities. The other three are Aligarh Muslim University, which is locked in a legal battle for minority status that exempts it from quotas, Sikkim University which started this year, and the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

“These figures are extremely embarrassing for us at the HRD ministry, since Parliament is certain to ask why, even after a special drive, the vacancies exceed recruitments,” a senior ministry official said.

The ministry today raised its concerns over the vacancies at a conference with the vice-chancellors of central universities and the directors of institutions like the IITs and the IIMs.

In July 2004, soon after coming to power, the United Progressive Alliance government had announced the special recruitment drive to fill vacant seats reserved for SC/ST candidates.

Surveys had shown that the lack of teachers applied across caste and community — there were many vacant general category seats as well. But the SC/STs were a minuscule fraction even among those recruited.

The drive was seen as an acknowledgement by the government that greater effort was needed to attract SC/ST candidates to teaching so that the vacant seats could be filled.

The new data, collected four years after the drive and in the run-up to a slew of Assembly elections, however, suggest that the drive may have failed.

In all, the 20 universities covered in the data have 6,315 teachers in varsity departments (that is, not including teachers at individual colleges of universities like Delhi University). According to the reservation policy, at least 947 of these posts (15 per cent) should be occupied by SCs and 474 (7.5 per cent) by STs.

The data collected by the HRD ministry, however, show that only 424 of the teachers are SCs and 221 are STs, suggesting that 523 SC and 253 ST seats are vacant.

But the data also reveal a skew in the nature of the reserved jobs that are vacant.

India’s central universities do meet their quota obligations when it comes to the post of lecturer, the entry-level post in varsities. But higher up in the faculty hierarchy, SC and ST teachers become increasingly rarer.

Less than two per cent of readers at central universities are SCs, and STs fare no better, the data show.

In the 20 central universities, only 12 professors are SCs, while the number is 22 for STs. Together, they make up less than one per cent of the total number of professors at India’s central universities.

STATUS REPORT

Varsity Total teachers SC ST Vacant SC Vacant ST
BHU 1532 86 24 144 91
DU 719 37 7 71 47
Jamia 601 49 19 41 26
JNU 473 27 11 44 24
Nehu* 274 2 44 39 More than quota
Visva-Bharati 576 54 19 32 24

*Northeastern Hill University

(Source: The Telegraph,Calcutta,India,Tuesday,November 11,2008)

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Caste violence in Dr.Ambedkar Law College, Chennai – A Report


“When we are studying, they try to disturb us. When we are appearing for exams, they prevent us. When we are in hostel, they trouble us. When we ask for the rights from the college administration, the officials ignore us.” This is what is happening in Ambedkar Law College, Chennai for years. For so long, the Dalit students were tolerant to the maximum, and maintained the order of not entering into violent retaliations against the provocative caste Hindu students. The caste Hindu student’s primary motive was to prevent dalit students in appearing for the exams further endangering their future who come from impoverished background.

History has diarized the oppressive practices of caste Hindus particularly in rural areas. The Dalits in rural areas are still facing the problem of untouchability for which they could not react due to the dependency on caste Hindus for livelihood. For these rural Dalits, education alone shall become the panacea for their suffering. Hence, Dalit students migrate to colleges in cities for social dignity, and better job opportunities. Now they are wonder struck with the hegemonies attitudes of caste Hindu students who find all possible ways to prevent and hamper their progress.

Violent attack on Dalit students by caste hindu students:

The caste Hindu students have been consistently attacking dalit students in Dr.Ambedkar Law College, and in law college hostel. On 12th November 2008 at Dr.Ambedkar Law College Chennai, group of the students reportedly belonging to the Thevar/Yadavar caste attacked the Dalit students. This incident aired on all leading news channels. One Dalit student was severely injured when a Thevar student attacked him with a dagger. Immediately the Dalit students reacted to the brutal act of caste hindu students.

The clashes between the caste hindu students and Dalit students have become customary in Dr.Ambedkar Law College, chennai. The violence among students has escalated to a larger scale after the formation of a caste based organisation “Mukkulathor Manvar Peravai” in college with the help of caste hindu leaders (Mr.Seenisami Thevar, Mr.Ramakrishna Thevar, and Mr.Sridhar vandiyar). Whilst the politically backed Muthuramalingam Thevar birth celebration in Tamil Nadu, the Mukkulathor Manavar Peravai (MMP) celebrated inside the college on 30th October 2008. The MMP students, in commemoration of Muthuramalingam Thevar, published pamphlets, and simultaneously insulted dalit students by truncating name of the college and wrote “Chennai Law College” in their pamphlets instead of Dr.Ambedkar Law College. Such a provocative act of MMP students infuriated Dalit students. The Dalit students demanded MMP students to include the full name of college in pamphlets/posters. The MMP students immediately started beating Dalit students, and threatened not to appear for exams. The problem continued further, and hampered the Dalit students to prepare and appear for exams.

Examination started on 5th November 2008 in Dr.Ambedkar law College, Chennai. Bharathi kannan, Arumugam, Ayyadurai, and other MMP students wandered around the college premises with deadly weapons and threatened Dalit students not to appear in examinations.

On 7th November, MMP students attacked Dalit students (Meganathan, Sivaraj, Raja, Chithirai Selvan, and Ezhumalai) in broadway bus stand for appearing in exams. Bharathi kannan, leader of MMP, along with Arumugam, Ayyadurai and Vijay attacked with deadly weapons out of which, Ezhumalai was severely injured on head. He was later admitted in General Hospital for treatment. Many students refused to appear for the exams due to fear of attack by MMP students.

The following days, the MMP students planned for a mass attack against Dalit students. The Dalit students immediately sought for protection from the college authorities. However, as usual, the college authorities took no interest on the complaint. Hence, considering all these threats and attacks senior Dalit students organized and took responsibility of preventing clashes among students during the examination process. The college authorities were well informed by the dalit senior students about the precarious situation.

On 12th November, dalit students went to appear for the exams at Dr.Ambedkar Law College, Chennai. Bharathi kannan and Arumugam, as per their plan, came by bike with weapons, and waited near high court new chamber building for Ayyadurai. In the mean time, Ayyadurai came out of exam hall and was attacked by Dalit students. After realizing that Ayyadurai was not carrying deadly weapons, the Dalit students comforted him.

Earlier at around 1.00 pm Bharathi kannan communicated to his team to be alert and take positions for attacking dalit students. Mr.Gopal, a retired employee from Kalapakkam automic energy station, noticed Bharathi kannan sharpening a dagger. In the meantime principal handed over a petition to B2 Espalande Police station to provide protection for students in the college briefing about a possible clash among students. Police officials took no immediate actions on this issue. Rather, the police suggested the principal to contact BSP state convenor for intervention. According to sources, the police had a plan of arresting BSP leader under this situation due to the pressure of caste based organizations.

Bharathi kannan, and Arumugam entered the campus from jumping over the law college-high court compound wall. Arumugam ran towards Chithiraiselvan, who was earlier attacked by MMP students several times. Arumugam, with his dagger, attacked Chithiraiselvan. After the attack, Dalit students ran for his help and retaliated in support of Chithiraiselvan. Further, Bharathi kannan took his dagger out and attacked Chithiraiselvan. Chithiraiselvan received attacks on his head, and lost one of his ears during the clash.

Dalit students infuriated with wounds of chithiraiselvan attacked bharathi kannan and arumugam with sticks in order for preventing assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be consequence of such assault. Bharathi kannan, in order to escape the attack, intentionally fell near the gate. It is also to be noted that Bharathi kannan has given a statement to Nakeeran, a popular Tamil magazine, that he deliberately fell near the gate in order to prevent further attack from Dalit students.

The police personnel who were watching the whole incident were present ever since Bharathi kannan jumped out of court compound wall to enter college and ran with dagger to attack Chithiraiselvan. They took no action to prevent the violence.

The police arrested 27 dalit students and 14 caste Hindu students. Out of 27 Dalit students, 17 are imprisoned in Puzhal prison, and 10 are in Saidapet sub jail. Chithiraiselvan was admitted to Royapettah General Hospital, and arrested under sections 147, 148, 307, 506(2) (Attempt to murder) of the IPC. He is under plastic surgery treatment of damaged ears.

Section 506(2) was invoked upon Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam. So far they have not been arrested due to the strong political and caste based organization support. According to sources, Trichy Siva, Member of Parliament, has been constantly supporting Bharathi Kannan in his activities.

Gokul Raj, who is neither a student of Dr.Ambedkar Law College nor involved in the incident, was arrested when he told the police that he is a Dalit student from Tirupathi Law College.

History of violent attacks on dalit students in Dr.Ambedkar Law College:

The caste Hindu students were constantly harassing Dalit students in the college hostel at Purasawakkam, Chennai. On many occasions, the caste hindu students refused to share rooms with Dalit students and demanded for separate Backward Class hostel to college authorities. Few months back, Bharathi Kannan brought more than 50 rowdies into the college campus to attack Dalit students. The Dalit students immediately reported to B2 police station to take legal actions against Bharathi kannan and others. The police took no interest in the case, and no action was taken against the perpetrators. The college authorities too were reluctant in considering the case, and ignored out rightly. Bharathi kannan has been involved in several criminal cases. However, so far no action was taken by college authorities and police officials.

Induced retaliation by Dalits against caste Hindu students

The dalit students were repeatedly attacked by MMP students. Dr.Ambedkar Law College has a gruesome history on caste based violence perpetuated by MMP students against dalit students. Throughout, dalit students were highly tolerant and took all peaceful measures to overcome caste discriminations and caste based violence. The dalit students of Dr.Ambedkar Law College have periodically reported to the police station, college authorities, and adhered to peaceful approaches to prevent caste violence. None of the dalit students have any criminal cases against them so far unlike MMP students. The dalit students hail from poor rural families of Tamil Nadu, and have very good track record in their respective villages.

The MMP students wanted to extend their domination in Dr.Ambedkar Law College, and tried all violent ways to prevent dalit students from pursuing their education. The reactionary act of dalit students are just an outcome of the persistent attack on them perpetuated by MMP students. The dalit students on 12th November attacked Bharathi kannan, Arumugam, and Ayyadurai in order for preventing further violence as these three already stabbed dalit students with daggers with the intention of killing them. The dalit students pleaded in all legal measures before attacking the MMP students. Since, the police and college authority failed to prevent violence among students, the Dalit students were forced to retaliate attacks against MMP students.

A significant part in the clash is that the dalit students never used deadly weapons unlike the MMP students. Even though the dagger was taken away from Bharathi kannan and Arumugam, none of the Dalit students used dagger for attacking the MMP students.

Anti-Dalit campaign by media, and caste Hindu activists:

Some of the caste Hindu dominated media has been repeatedly using news channels against Dalit students. The video clippings are highly biased, and communicate only the reactionary and defensive acts of victimized Dalit students who were assaulted. The constant violence carried by MMP students, and attack by Bharathi kannan and Arumugam that has lead to the violent clash has totally been removed. Rather, the Dalit students were portrayed by the media as the perpetrators.

The MMP students have very strong political hold, and enjoy support from caste based organizations in Tamil Nadu. AIADMK announced fasting on 23rd November which is conducted by students of the party. AIADMK requested party members, students, and public to take action against Dalit students for attacking Bharathi kannan and Arumugam.

Wide scale protest witnessed in many districts by the backward class organizations to take action against dalit students. Nearly about 22 public transports were damaged by the violent protest. Political parties such as DMK and ADMK have raised issues against the Dalit students in assembly. Posters portraying against Dalit students by caste Hindu organizations has been witnessed in many districts of Tamil Nadu.

Demands and Recommendations:

1. Demand for the release all 27 Dalit students from prison under IPC section 100, 102 and 81. Dalit students were not having any intention of harming MMP students. In order to prevent further attacks from MMP students, the Dalit students attacked. The right of private defense used by Dalits students against MMP students was due to the act of MMP students which does reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, and that there was no time to have recourse to the protection of the public authorities. If the Dalit students had the intention of killing the MMP students, they would have brought deadly weapons or grabbed the daggers from MMP students and would have attacked.

According to section 100, the Right of private defense of the body extends, under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding sections, to the voluntary causing of death or of any harm to the assailant if the offense which occasions the exercise of the right be of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated namely:-

i. Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be consequence of such assault

ii. Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be consequence of such assault.

According to IPC section 102, the right of private defence continues as long as such apprehension of danger to the body continues.

According to IPC section 81, Act likely to cause harm but done without criminal intent and to prevent other harm – Nothing is an offence merely by reason of its being done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause harm, if it be done without any criminal intention to cause harm, and in good faith for the purpose of preventing or avoiding other harm to person or property.

2. Immediate release of Gokul Raj who is neither a student of Dr.Ambedkar Law College nor connected to the incident. There was no common object between Gokul Raj and dalit students of Dr.Ambedkar Law College. Mere presence at the scene of rioting does not make a person an offender under the offence of rioting. Gokul Raj has neither common object nor taken some active participation in such offence. He was neither armed with deadly weapon of offence nor with anything which is used as a weapon of offence. Hence, Section 147 and 148 should be revoked upon him.

3. Invoke IPC section 147 and 148 upon Mukkulathur Manavar Peravai students who had come with 40 rowdies to attack dalit students. They carried armed weapons for the purpose of injuring and killing dalit students who came for appearing exams.

4. Invoke IPC section 120A and 120B against Bharathi Kannan, Arumugam, and Ayyadurai on criminal conspiracy with the intention killing dalit students who appear exams.

5. Revoke IPC section 147 and 148 upon Dalit students as they have only exercised the right of private defence, which is acceptable under IPC section 100. The right of private defence used by dalits students against MMP students was due to the act of MMP students which does reasonably cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, and that there was no time to have recourse to the protection of the public authorities. The Dalit students were not having any “common object” of criminal force as stated in IPC section 141 (Unlawful assembly).

6. The authorities of Dr.Ambedkar Law College should impose ban on Mukkulathur Manavar Peravai, and prevent functioning inside college premises

7. Financial support to all 27 dalit students to be extended for facing expenses, and loss incurred due to arrest as all these students hail from socially and economically poor families.

8. Dismissal of Bharathi Kannan, Arumugam, and Ayyadurai from Dr.Ambedkar Law College for their criminal records. There are many criminal cases against them.

9. Register case against Bharathi kannan, Arumugam, and ayyadurai under the SC/ST (Preventions of atrocities) Act, 1989 under section 3(1) (ii), (x) for acts with intent to cause injury and insult upon Dalit students, and intentionally intimidate dalit students. The three students have already been registered previously under the SC/ST (Preventions of atrocities) Act, 1989

10. Provide protection to all 27 Dalit students if they avail conditional or unconditional bail. It is speculated that the caste based organizations are planning to attack Dalit students if the later is released from prison.

11. Bharathi Kannan, Arumugam and Ayyadurai to be arrested under IPC section 307 as they had the motive and intention for killing. They attacked Chithiraiselvan and others with the intention of killing them with a dagger that is shown in all media. Chithiraiselvan in this attack lost one of his ears, and now under treatment in Royapettah General Hospital.

12. Arrest Bharathi Kannan, Arumugam and Ayyadurai under IPC section 150 in hiring of persons to join unlawful assembly for attacking Dalit students

13. Action against MMP students for damaging college properties while attacking Dalit students.

14. Actions against MMP students for abusing national leader Dr.Ambedkar, and in continuation ban the MMP. Such a derogatory act of MMP students on our father of Indian Constitution is not only obnoxious but also punishable.

15. Prevent caste hindu leaders in sponsoring for perpetuating violence against Dalits

16. While visiting Puzhal prison and Saidapet sub jail, the dalit students requested for release, and appear in exams. Special arrangements should be made by Dr.Ambedkar Law College for Dalit students, and others who were prevented to appear for the examination. During such process, enough protection should be given to all students, irrespective of their castes, by college authorities and police while appearing exams, and also in hostel premises.

Team

1. Tamizhinian, Advocate Chennai High Court

2. Umanathan, Sakya Foundation

3. Veeramani, Research Scholar, JNU

4. Gauthama Prabhu, Social activist

Condemn the violence

Dalits Student being attacked by Thevar at Dr.Ambedkar Law College Chennai

Dalit Students being attacked by Thevar students at Dr.Ambedkar Law College Chennai

On 12th November 2008 at Dr. Ambedkar Law College Chennai, group of the students reportedly belong to the Thevar/Maravar caste attacked the Dalit students. The picked up Dalit students and beaten them with sticks and metal rods. This incident repeatedly aired on the all leading news channels. These students also not allowed Dalit students to appear for examination. This happened in the backdrop of the incidence happened in the last month when the group of the students belong to the “Mukkulathor Manavar Peravai (Mukkulathor student organization)” celebrated the Thevar Jeyanthi on Muthuramalinga Thevar’s birth anniversary. In all the posters and pamphlets printed for this function apart from casteist slogans the name of the Dr.Ambedkar law college has been truncated to Chennai Law College removing Dr.Ambedkar’s name.

Marvar caste which is popularly known as the Thevars/Devars is the land holding caste and one of the oppressive caste from Tamilnadu and notoriously known for their atrocities on the Dalits of Tamilnadu. This is not the matter of which caste is oppressing but every one should condemn this incidence.Education campuses in India are the further extension of the brutal,oppressive,feudal,anti-human Hindu social order.

This blog have come across the three fact finding reports done by some individuals and organizations based in Chennai.

-editor

Incidents of violence at D.Ambedkar Law College,Chennai

Dear Friends,

This is a fact finding report into the current caste conflict in Chennai. The purpose is to muster quick support to the  Dalit students involved because they are just feeling helpless. If any of you (including organizations) wish to come forward, you may contact me. My contact is +91 9820216146.

- Anand  Teltumbde

The Facts behind the Incidents of violence at Chennai

Dr. Ambedkar Law College.

The incident of violence on 12.11.2008 at Dr.Ambedkar Law College has shaken the conscience of every body.  This incident  surely needs to be condemned.  The reason behind the submission of details herein is to bring out the facts behind the incidents of violence at a law college that we all believe is to produce future judges and socially conscious lawyer.

That clashes take place in the law college is not a new phenomena. We are shaken thoroughly to know the details of the brewing tension over the past four years that has broken out violently today. “Thevar Peravai” that functions with its headquarters at Chennai has been concentrating, specifically targeting the Thevar community students from the southern districts of Tamilnadu. It functions primarily in whipping up the passions and utilizes them for their vested parochial goals. With these students a casteist organization named ‘ Mukkulothor Student’s Federation” has already been formed. The main objective of this organization is to target and attack the Dalits. And they also raise queries like while all other 4 govt. law colleges are named as Govt.law college, why should the Chennai law college be named after Dr.Ambedkar and called Dr.Ambedkar law college. Since Dr.Ambedkar is a Dalit this name should be changed. This is their contention for their past 4 years. They do not use Ambedkar’s name in any of their advertisement and mention it only as ‘Chennai Law College’.

Such activities has raised unnecessary discomfiture amonsgtthe dalit students and raised a sense of hatred between the communities. In all these issues Bharathi Kannan, belonging to Mukkulathor Student Federation is the prime culprit. In the recent past,( in 6 months duration) Bharathi Kannan was waiting with five of his friends with swords in hand prowling to kill atleast tow Dalit boys. Police came to know of this and arrested him red handed with 3 long swords in their possession. But they were released without any complaints been filed against them. Though the college authorities were in the know of his activities it did not make any efforts to curb him. In the same manner he with his friends went and attacked the students of Dr.Ambedkar Law college residing in hostel at Millers road, Kilpauk. The Principal did not take any action. At least there are 17 cases including attempt to murder, pending on Bharathi Kannan.

In this circumstance on ’30th October’ during the Thevar Jayanthi the passion were whipped up. The poster prepared by Mukkulothor Students Federation expressed the re assertion of its casteist hierarchy, with usages avoiding Dr. Ambedkar’s name. Also they teased the Dalit students on that day. The Dalits who questioned this were beaten up and with the law college students having exams from 3 rd of November, Mukkulothor Students Federation declared that any Dalit entering the college would be thrashed and killed. They were roaming around in the college complex with logs, iron rod, dagger and swords. Dalit boys could not enter the hall. Some Dalit boys came sneaking through and wrote the exams. Police or college authority did not take any action even though they were in the know of things.

Only on such a condition they came on 12.11.2008with logs, sticks etc for self protection. College authorities insisted that the students should avoid precipitating the issue. The Dalit students retorted stating that when the college authorities did not take any action when they were being prevented from attending exams, and they had come there for giving protection for Dalits and not attacking the Mukkulathor. Since some Dalit students have come for exams and Mukkulathors have identified and planned to attack them, they came for their defence. In such a situation Bharathikannan, Arumugam and Ayyadurai with daggers 2 ft. long, jumped in shouting that they shall kill at least 5 or so and moved towards the Dalit students. The Dalit students ran helter- shelter for their safety. When Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam ran and caught hold of Chithraiselvan, a Dalit student and tried to stab him down through the head. When he turned and saved his head his ears were torn off by the dagger. Other students joined in to save Chithrai Selvan and hit Bharathi kannan  and Arumugam.

The sole responsibility for this callous approach rests entirely with the college authorities. For the last 4years when in the name of celebrating Thevar Jayanthi, efforts to assert caste hierarchy were being made, specifically failing to address Dr.Ambedkar Law college as such and naming it only as Chennai law college, threatening of the Dalit students, issuing threat to life for those Dalit students who opposed bringing caste conflict into the campus etc were brought to the notice of the college authorities no action was taken. Especially, for the last three days when it was brought to their notice of the magnitude and massive proportion of the brewing trouble, police or the college authorities made no action was taken to prevent the same.

In this situation Bharathi Kannan came in with daggers in hand to attack Dalit students. If the college authorities had acted in time this incident of violence could have been prevented.

Our demands:

1) Take appropriate action on the Principal for failing to take necessary action in time to prevent the brewing violence.

2) College authorities should initiate necessary action to prevent the casteist organizations that function from within the campus triggering violence.

3) Give due protection to all the students especially the Dalit students.

4) Take necessary action on those behind the incidents of violence, the organization, Thevar Peravai for fomenting casteist feelings.

5) Take appropriate action on the police authorities that failed to prevent the students who prowled inside the college campus for the past one week with weapons.

Senthilkumar Solidarity Committee Report

The suicide earlier this year of Senthilkumar, a dalit PhD student at the University of Hyderabad, has once again exposed the murky realities of caste discrimination in our universities.The debate on reservations in higher education has centred around the question of who “deserves” reservations, while the brahminical ordering of institutions of higher education has received only sporadic attention.1 Senthil’s suicide has re-affirmed the fact that the dominant academic culture works relentlessly to subvert the logic of reservations. The body of Senthilkumar was discovered in his room at the New Research Scholars Hostel on February 24, 2008. Since then, the attitude of the university has been one of denial and cover-up. The

initial claims were that Senthil had died of “cardiac arrest”. Even after newspaper reports suggested a case of suicide,2 the university did not take any action, and continued to feign ignorance. While the post-mortem report ascertaining the cause of death as “poisoning” is dated February 28, it was not made public until April. A dalit student agitation demanded an enquiry as well as compensation for the family – the minimum an academic institution is expected to do in the circumstances. To this the registrar’s response was that “there was no such provision in the University guidelines”. In an open letter to the vice chancellor,the SC/ST Joint Action Committee (JAC: comprising students, faculty and staff association members) on campus demanded that the rules regarding the fellowships for students be modified, in order to “provide a much broader philosophical premise for the grant of scholarship” and that the procedure for allotting guides to PhD students be made transparent. They also demanded a judicial enquiry;there was no response to this. Instead, an internal fact-finding committee was appointed in mid-March, only after intervention from D Ravikumar, the well known dalit intellectual and a member of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly. The committee comprised only faculty members of the university; the JAC refused to depose before it. The report submitted by this committee was again withheld until an application under the RTI Act (from the JAC) forced the university to make it available, finally, on April 28. In what follows, we draw from this report, newspaper coverage and personal discussions to demonstrate the reason for all these evasions and denial – Senthil was yet another victim of the entrenched realities of caste discrimination that pervade academic spaces and practices in the university. Senthil Senthilkumar was the first to enter higher education not only from his family, but the entire Panniandi community. His parents survive on pig-rearing in Salem district of Tamil Nadu. He had finished an MPhil in Physics from Pondicherry University before financial constraints forced him to interrupt his education. He enrolled with the School of Physics at the University of
Hyderabad in 2007. This arduous journey into higher education could only have been made by a person of exceptional ability and determination. Senthil was the only student from the batch of 2007 who was yet to be assigned a supervisor. He failed in one of the four papers required in coursework and in the first supplementary exam. He had the provision of writing another exam in March and clearing his backlog. The non-NET fellowship (awarded to students at the University of Hyderabad) was his only source of survival as a student.It was also an important means of supporting the family. As the JAC also pointed out in their letter, according to new university guidelines, the fellowships for PhD students are not linked to “performance” in coursework. However, the School of Physics acted in contravention to this and Senthil’s fellowship was stopped, his name put up on the notice-board, citing his failure in coursework as the reason.The rule connecting fellowship with “performance” in coursework clearly has a punitive logic. In this logic, the fellowship becomes a tool of punishment in the hands of the authorities against students, rather than a means to support their education. It is well known that the demands of higher education make the fellowship absolutely crucial for dalit students, and withholding it amounts to wilfully denying them a place in the university, in the first instance. As Senthil’s case shows, the denial of the fellowship can have even more serious consequences. After protests by a dalit student, a deans’ committee meeting was held and
this rule was changed, a week before Senthil’s death. Incredibly enough, the decision was not communicated to Senthil or announced, unlike the very public withdrawal of the fellowship. The report records that the loss of the fellowship was a source of intense anxiety for Senthil in the period leading up to his suicide; it was
undoubtedly one of the reasons that drove him to it.

The report’s account of the School of Physics reads like a modern-day manual on practising caste discrimination. In 2006, it became the only school in the faculty of Sciences to introduce coursework. Incidentally, this was also the year that the Rajiv Gandhi Fellowships for SC/ST students in higher education were instituted. At every step of the way, the school seems to have experimented with ways of ejecting “unwanted” students out of academics. One example is the criteria for clearing the coursework; the rules were suddenly changed so that even if a student scored the required 50 per cent to pass in a course, the = doctoral committee would be the final arbiter of his/her grade. The students were not informed of this change, resulting in many of them failing or getting a “pass” in courses they assumed they had cleared. Another example is the distinction between the “faculty adviser” and the “supervisor”. The practice of allotting an adviser for the initial stage of research is not the same as appointing a supervisor who guides the student’s research. According to Vipin Srivastava, the dean, School of Physics, it was understood that the adviser would eventually become the supervisor. The students however insisted that th  advisors made it “amply clear” to them “that they should not assume that they would be their eventual supervisors”. The report records that this creates “uncertainty in the minds of students…compounded when [they] see some of their colleagues being already treated as full-time research scholars and permitted to use the labs of their faculty advisers.” One might think that the rules being arbitrary for all students, the most one can accuse the school of is lack of “transparency” and “communication”. Therefore, the rules and procedures must be made “transparent”. This is also the report’s “finding” and its “recommendation”. But what are we to make of the following two statements? “…it is a fact that most of the students affected by the inconsistencies and ambiguities in procedures were SC/ST students” (p 4). Even more significantly, “[A]ll the Physics students that this Committee could meet have reported their sense that the School was acting against the interests of the SC/ST students” (p 4). It also tells us that out of four SC/ST students in the batch, two dropped out because they did not find supervisors, and one has now committed suicide.

The report categorically states, “Senthil was aware of all the problems being faced by other SC students in the School. He was not only beginning to believe that the SC/ST students were ‘being targeted’ in the School  but was also getting anxious about it. He spoke to friends about the case of one of his friends, who, in spit  of being a CSIR fellowship-holder and clearing all four papers in one attempt  ailed to pass the comprehensive viva examination. Such instances led him to think that the School had too many ‘obstacles’ for someone wanting to do a PhD in Physics” (p 5). When reports of Senthil’s death first came out, Srivastava told a newspaper “we did make personal recommendations with the academic council to not include students who are not up to the mark”. The report of the fact-finding committee has established that the “mark” this school seems to require is the mark of caste. The “arbitrariness” in the procedures of the school, then, is quite systematic; it seems designed to push out those dalit students who have managed to gain entry in spite of this special requirement. These are students who have battled such odds at every step to come to the department, and whose success is a testimony to their ability and their immense value to the academic community. The practices of the School of Physics then amount to upholding the caste-order at huge costs to science and higher education, and the nation at large. Elite Institutions The University of Hyderabad is no stranger to allegations of caste-based discrimination, that have also been the centre of many a political agitation. The rustication of 10 dalit students in 2002 – withou  an inquiry or any investigation – is only the most recent instance that comes to mind. But this is the first time that an official acknowledgement has come from the university, in spite of the vice chancellor, Syed Hasnain’s claim that the committee has not found “evidence” of discrimination.  The years following the Mandal agitation have given us the vocabulary to speak about caste in its new realised forms in modern institutions. While this new language has to some extent transformed the discussion in the humanities and socia  science disciplines, the “pure sciences” have been completely fenced  off from a social audit in the name of “objectivity” and “national progress”. It is significant that the latest round of agitation against reservations has been spearheaded by medical professionals, engineers and the IT sector. These disciplines have been at the forefront of pitting “merit” against “politics”, where one lies in the domain of truth and objectivity, while the other is merely a politician’s whim. The survival of these disciplines is linked to the prestige attached to them by virtue of their exclusivity. In this scheme of things Science is important inasmuch as the “masses” cannot approach it – it is an exclusivedomain, and zealously guarded as such Those who manage to get in in spite of these stringent gate-keeping mechanisms are made to pay a heavy price for their ability. A dalit research scholar committed suicide at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore last year, and no investigation was held. The Thorat Committee Report on AIIMS has documented the widespread manifestations of caste prejudice at that premier institution, where right from the ragging of students, to hostel accommodation, extracurricular activities, grades and classroom practices, all aspects of life bear the stamp of caste bias. How many more dropouts, humiliations and deaths will we need before recognising that institutions must be held accountable and the guilty punished? Senthilkumar’s suicide lies at the intersection of the academic malpractices of the School of Physics, the exclusivity of the “pure sciences”, the re-formed untouchability practised in university spaces and the threat to the status quo posed by reservation. Each of these questions has to be addressed if higher education is to be enabling and not merely accessible, for the large numbers of students who struggle to gain entry into it, only to be met with indifference, or downright hostility and humiliation. Reservations may provide access, but as Senthil’s death shows, the battle for democratising our institutions – and a genuinely progress-oriented science – is of a different order altogether.
Notes
1 The Thorat Committee Report on AIIMS,
which has been conveniently forgotten in the
euphoria surrounding Venugopal’s reinstatement
as director.
2 TOI, February 26, 2008.



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