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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dalit scholar's suicide an indictment of BJP's Hindutva agenda, say Indian Americans - Two Circles


Submitted by TwoCircles.net on 20 January 2016 - 9:08pm
By TCN News

Washington: The Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group aimed at safeguarding India's pluralist and tolerant ethos, expressed shock and outrage over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University. Vemula and four other members of Ambedkar Students Association were victimised and subjected to relentless harassment by the University officials, said the Council.

“Rohith Vemula and his associates were clearly targeted for raising issues that were inconvenient not only for upper-caste outfits and University officials, but also for the blatantly anti-Dalit and sectarian BJP administration at the Centre. Their harassment by the University on flimsy grounds included discontinuation of the monthly stipend since July and suspension from the University since September last year,” the council said in a press release.

This council also said that the incident exposes the role of Smriti Irani's Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry. This is the second instance where Smriti Irani's Ministry has been found exerting overbearing political pressure and interference in University affairs. The IIT Madras decision to ban the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) followed the receipt of a letter from Smriti Irani's HRD Ministry. In this case, Smriti Irani's HRD Ministry sent five letters to the Hyderabad University for action on Labour Minister Bandaru Dattareya's complaint regarding "anti-national activities" on the campus and the alleged "violent attack" on an ABVP leader.

"Rohith Vemula's suicide is a chilling example of the deeply entrenched caste-based oppression in India," said Umar Malick, President, Indian American Muslim Council. "His death is not only an occasion for profound sorrow but also a call to action for all who care about human rights and religious freedom. 

Continuing caste-based oppression in modern India and anti-minority repression are the bitter fruits of Hindutva," he added.

The council further said that while the charges against Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice-Chancellor of the University are a step in the right direction, justice could be elusive unless there is mass outrage over Rohith's suicide, as well as sustained action by civil society institutions. IAMC urged all people of conscience, in India and across the world, to recognise caste-based oppression as a form of racism.