Demand Justice for Dika, Join Protest Demo on 27th Jan

Mahadalit Girl Dika Kumari Harassed, Raped and Killed in Hajipur Bihar! Bihar Government Remains Unmoved!!

Put an End to Killing Dalit Dreams of Education and Dignity! Resist Cover-ups and State Shielding of This Casteist-Patriarchal Cohort!! Ensure High Level Probe into the Conditions of Dalit Hostels across Bihar!!

 

 Demanding Justice for Dika,

Join Protest Demonstration at Bihar Bhawan

27th January (Friday) at 2pm

 

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I work in the fields with a trowel and a sickle. But I wanted my daughter to study. I’m uneducated and poor but that did not stop my daughter Dika and I from dreaming of a future with dignity. That dream has been snatched from us. All I want is justice. I demand justice so that no other mother should be robbed so cruelly of her daughter.”

– Kusmi Devi, Dika Kumari’s mother

On the early hours of 7 January, Dika Kumari was battered, brutally raped and killed, her dead body thrown in a drain near her hostel in the premises of the Ambedkar Residential Girls’ School in Hajipur (Vaishali). Dika, 16 years of age, daughter of Kusmi Devi, an agricultural labourer from Bihar’s most oppressed Mahadalit Musahar community, was studying in the Ambedkar School, one of the schools run by the Bihar Government for Dalits. For Dika and her mother, their hopes for a dignified future laid in Dika’s education. Today those dreams stand shattered as Kusmi Devi tries to courageously muster all her strength to rage for justice for her daughter.

What is further disturbing and horrifying is that this happened a day after Dika’s mother had unsuccessfully tried to bring her back home after Dika told her mother that her teachers were pushing her to do “bad things” with them in return for “good marks”. Her attempts to take her daughter back on hearing the complaint were met by the hostel officials pushing her out of the premises! The same authorities did not even deem it necessary to inform her the next morning that her daughter was no more! Kusmi and her family rushed to the hostel after getting the news, to find Dika’s body lying in a gutter. Dika was sexually assaulted and brutally killed.

The police has been refusing to acknowledge sexual violence. Till now no rape charges have been filed and no POCSO guidelines have been invoked despite the fact that Dika was a minor girl and her body carried marks of violent sexual assault. The entire incident makes clear the conditions inside such schools – conditions in which the students and their parents are not seen as deserving of dignity or rights. Dika was killed to cover up sexual harassment and the Bihar police authorities are hushing up the matter.

Dika’s murder exposes the claims of the so-called messiahs of social justice and women empowerment in Bihar. The fact that Dika’s tortuous death has taken place within hostel premises cries for an immediate probe in the functioning of these spaces and calls for bringing the guilty to the book. Far from realising the gravity of the situation reflected in all the girl students vacating the hostel, the government’s response has still been of criminal apathy and silence. They haven’t even prompted a thorough and impartial probe into the state of Ambedkar schools and hostels in Bihar. The Central Government Minister Ram Vilas Paswan himself, too is yet to speak on the murder.

A few months back a Dalit boy in Muzzafarpur was tortured and brutally thrashed by upper caste boys. The violence occurred on the premises of the Kendriya Vidyalaya The Muzzafarpur incident is proof that even when a Dalit student manages to get into the Kendriya Vidyalaya hostels, there is no safety or surety against caste violence. This conveys to the oppressed communities that educational spaces are not for them or that the dreams that education may have the potential to realise will come at the cost of dignity and life. Dalit students have for long been raising demands for basic human dignity in these schools, without any response from the Nitish-Lalu Government.

Massive protests are happening all across Bihar demanding justice for Dika under the banner of AISA and AIPWA. Kajal, a young girl from the same school along with her friends and Dika’s mother are at the forefront of a sustained struggle for justice. Today, we must come out and demand justice for Dika and also ask the Bihar Government as to why it choses to abet the killers by shielding them. Dika’s classmates and hostel mates have been speaking out against the horrible conditions and casteism rampant in the school. 

Why is it that the Dalit boys and girls become easy targets of not just governmental apathy but also of caste violence as was also seen when Dalit boys in their hostels in Bhojpur were subjected to arson and vandalism by the Ranveer Sena following the death of Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh!

We strongly demand a thorough investigation into the conditions of residential schools for children coming from poor and oppressed backgrounds and especially girls. Not just in Bihar, Dikas and Deltas are killed, assaulted and discriminated against in Dalit hostels in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and all over.

AISA demands that CM of Bihar immediately order a high-level inquiry into the murder of Dika and also into the state of residential schools and hostels for Dalit students in the state. Additionally, strict action must be taken against not only those who tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered Dika, but also against those in positions of authorities who participated in or remained mute spectators to the everyday harassment of Dika and several other girls in the residential school.

Rebuff JNU VC’s Overenthusiastic Attempts to Impose the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification

Forcible Imposition of the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification by the JNU VC

Spells Massive Seat Cut in  JNU’s  M.Phil./Ph.D. Admission and Scuttling of Social Justice in the Admission Process!

Reconvene 142nd AC Meeting!  Reject UGC Notification!  Stop Seat Cut!  Reduce Viva Weightage!

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The Background: The JNU Vice Chancellor convened the 142nd AC meeting during the winter break on 23 Dec 2016, violating all norms and ignoring legitimate objections from teachers and students that AC meetings should not be held during vacations when several members of AC were out of campus. In the earlier AC meeting held in October, the VC promised to convene a special AC meeting within the semester to finalise the decision on the reduction of viva weightage. However, in the AC meeting of 23 Dec, instead of adopting the Viva Committee (Prof. Nafey Committee) Recommendations of reduction of viva weightage from 30 to 15, for which the AC was primarily meant, the VC suddenly forced the ‘adoption’ of a UGC notification of 5 May 2016!

With this single stroke, the VC not only nullified the hard work and long awaited recommendations to reduce viva weightage, he also sought to overhaul the entire admission process for M.Phil. /PhD. JNU’s present admission process – marked by the unique deprivation points system and the latest recommendation for viva weightage reduction – can serve as a model for inclusive and socially-just admissions for any university. The VC, through his unilateral imposition of the UGC notification, has dealt a body blow to JNU’s admission process for its entire research programme, by cutting down seats in M. Phil / Ph.D. as well as scuttling social justice in the admission process.

Dangerous Implications of the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification

What will the ‘adoption’ of the UGC notification mean for JNU’s M.Phil./Ph.D. admission process, research programme and the socially inclusive character of the university?

       ¨  Massive Seat Cut in M.Phil./Ph.D Admissions:

Most significantly, the UGC notification lays down “strict rules” regarding the eligibility of “research supervision”. It says:

“A Research Supervisor/Co-supervisor who is a Professor, at any given point of time, cannot guide more than three (3)M.Phil. and Eight (8) Ph.D. scholars. An Associate Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of two (2) M.Phil. and six (6) Ph.D. scholars and an Assistant Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of one (1) M.Phil. and four (4) Ph.D. scholars.”

Needless to say, such a cap on the numeber of research supervision will lead to a drastic reduction in the available number of MPhil and PhD seats in JNU, with many centres unable to provide a single seat over next few years. It is alarming that the Director of Admissions has sent off a circular on 11 Jan 2017 to different centres with the following order:

Accordingly the number of students intake for M.Phil./PhD programmes will be recast on the basis of faculty strength of each school/centre/special school as per clause 6.5 of the above said UGC regulation”.

This is a clear farmaan for drastic SEAT CUT in the upcoming M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions jeopardising the admission opportunity of hundreds of students of JNU and elsewhere. This Seat-Cut formula has to be robustly resisted.

JNU administration must be categorically told that UGC-dictated cap of restricting M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions based on existing faculty strength has no logic so far JNU is concerned.

  • Firstly, with its existing intake capacity, JNU is rated as a top university in research for decades by all “quality” indices. So what’s the need to impose the UGC-dictated cap on admissions in M.Phil./Phd.D. research programmes?
  • Secondly, the JNU faculty is not complaining of ‘overburden’/’excess research scholars’; on the contrary, they have forcefully opposed the UGC notification. So why is the administration so keen for SEAT CUT in M.Phil./Ph.D. admissions?
  • Thirdly and more fundamentally, is it correct to restrict admissions/enrolment in higher research based on the existing faculty strength? Or, the govt must plan to expand faculty strength in research programmes depending on the expanding number of new aspirants?

It is evident, that illogical the UGC notification is meant to trigger a downward spiral and steady reduction in the number of research scholars in the coming days and is only reflective of BJP govt.’s dangerous political agenda of somehow strangulating higher education and research in the country. Last year, BJP govt attempted the same by trying to withdraw Non-NET fellowship; this year they have struck back with this UGC notification to curb access to higher education and research.

When it is the need of the time to expand the scope of higher education for the vast majority of the Indian youth and make it accessible to the most marginalised section of the society the UGC notification is being used for reducing the existing inadequate number of seats and scuttling social justice. The UGC circular claims that it is putting ‘guidelines’ in place to ensure ‘quality’. The fact is: in the name of quality, the UGC is punishing students for NO fault of theirs. If there are not enough faculty members WHO is to be held responsible? Aren’t University administrations and the MHRD/UGC ultimately responsible for this? Why should students suffer because the MHRD has an agenda to kill publicly funded, affordable, quality higher education in India? The excuse of ‘quality’ or inadequate faculty cannot be used to reduce the number of students. The solution towards better ‘quality’ would be to increase investment in higher education, finish contractualisation of faculty posts, and guarantee fair appointments. But the MHRD/UGC are least interested in doing any of these.

Apart from the formula of direct SEAT CUTS, the adoption of UGC notification by JNU will kill the potential for social inclusion in higher education in MULTIPLE OTHER WAYS:

  • Till 2016, the eligibility criteria for applying to JNU’s various programmes was decided by individual departments, depending on their requirements as well as past experiences. The minimum qualifying marks demanded by various programmes range from 45-55% (in MA for admission in the M. Phil programme, for instance). Also, relaxation in these eligibility criteria is provided to students from the PH/ SC/ST/OBC categories. As per the UGC circular all candidates to all M. Phil programmes will have to get a minimum of 55% in MA. The uniform 55% benchmark would clearly restrict several students from marginalized backgrounds from even appearing in the entrance test for M. Phil/Ph.D.
  • All Universities have the right to decide their admission requirements, based on the specific nature of the programmes they offer. Several court judgements have upheld this right – the MHRD or the UGC cannot decide a single ‘eligibility’/selection criteria which has to be adopted by Universities all over the country.  In other words, a “one-shoe-fits-all” philosophy is completely unacceptable, as this will destroy the ability of individual departments and Universities to cater to diverse students as well as research interests.
  • In JNU, till now, in order to be called for the viva voce for M.Phil. admissions, students need to obtain a minimum marks (35% for unreserved categories, 31.5% for OBCs and 25% for SC/ST/PH out of 70; http://www.jnu.ac.in/Admission/AdmissionPolicy.pdf) in the written exam. Students from PH/SC/ST/OBC categories get legally mandated relaxation in this minimum eligibility criterion. According to the UGC circular, all students now have to obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the written exam, with no mention of relaxation to students from marginalised backgrounds.

Clearly, this will DRASTICALLY reduce the number of students eligible to even be called for the viva!  In other words, JNU will not be able to fill the seats it has in various programmes. Seats reserved for SC/ST/OBC/PH will obviously see the heaviest casualties.

       ¨  100% VIVA Based Admission :

The JNU Vice Chancellor is trying his best to go even one step ahead from the UGC in scuttling social justice and inclusive admission policy. The UGC notification states that the M. Phil /PhD admission will be based on a two step entrance process consisting of written and viva. It also states that written test will be a qualifier. In JNU entrance for integrated M. Phil/PhD is already a two step entrance test and a qualifying mark is fixed. Nowhere does the UGC notification mention that the written will be a mere qualifier. The Vice Chancellor’s attempt to replace the Nafey committee recommendations to reduce viva weightage from 30 to 15 by the UGC notification is nothing but a deliberate attempt to escape his responsibilities in reducing viva weightage.

The Vice Chancellor clearly intends to “over read” the UGC notification by making written test a mere qualifier. That would mean viva will carry 100% weightage in making the admission list. It is more than clear that it is the Vice Chancellor’s denial to address the structural discrimination in high viva weightage and not the ‘obligation’ of the UGC notification that has stopped the AC to accept the Nafey committee recommendation.

  ¨  Undermining Deprivation Points:

The imposition of the UGC notification would act in grossly undermining JNU’s unique deprivation point policy. If the UGC notification is interpreted to mean that the written examination will merely be a qualifier then surely the question comes how deprivation points will be given. In this motivated reading of the UGC circular if deprivation points are given at the level of written test then the points will not be added in preparing the final merit list. If the deprivation points are given after written test then the points will be meaningless in ensuring that students from deprived backgrounds make it to the viva.

In sum, the UGC notification is in reality a “strait-jacket” with rigid examination criteria, admission rules and the criteria for the eligibility of research supervision.

JNU administration, by blanket and forcible imposition of the UGC notification, has severely compromised the university’s autonomy and is working to destroy the unique inclusive features of JNU’s admission process won through struggles by generations of students’ movement in the campus.

The Unexplained Haste

After the so called ‘adoption’ of UGC notification by the AC and EC, the admin was forced by growing opposition to send a circular on 5 January 2017 asking for inputs on the notification by 16 Jan 2017. However, without even waiting for the inputs to arrive, the Director of Admissions sent another farmaan to centres on 11 January 2017, this time virtually ORDERING the centres to IMPLEMENT the UGC Notification and accordingly RECAST (read REDUCE) M.PHIL./PhD. seats for the upcoming admissions and overhaul the admission process. Clearly, this undue haste is to placate the saffron masters whose whole and sole agenda is to commercialise and saffronise higher education in general and target JNU in particular.

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Serving the Saffron Agenda: Now SHUT DOWN JNU-Part III?

For past one year, JNU has witnessed unprecedented attacks and crackdowns. Last year, in the month of January, Prof. M Jagadesh Kumar took over as Vice-Chancellor of JNU. Within weeks of his joining, the campus witnessed an unprecedented crisis with Delhi Police being given a free hand to raid the campus, witch-hunt political activists, arrest at will without the VC demanding to even see the evidence or any warrant before allowing such action. The saffron brigade gave the call for “Shut Down JNU” and the new VC was seen dancing to the sanghi tune. This was the phase of Shut Down JNU-1. The VC was welcomed with a befitting resistance by students and teachers which introduced him to the spirit of JNU.

We again witnessed a fresh round of attacks by the JNU admin on students and teachers from the beginning of the last semester: the phase of “Shut Down JNU II”. The JNU administration shamelessly used threatening and intimidating tactics as well as victimizing teachers and delegitimizing JNUTA, who have spoken out against the policies of govt. crackdown on universities. The security guards were instructed to record any political cultural programs, public meetings and academic activities. Flouting every established norm, the JNU administration tried to change the seniority criterion of appointing Chairpersons in the centers. Agreement with the vision of VC instead of the seniority is being established as the criterion to appoint the Chairpersons. In the name of the lack of “vision”, teachers from the deprived sections are being removed from Chairpersons. The highest number of notices ever served in the past year to student activists, including former and current Union office bearers at each instance of protest, including, burning of an effigy of Gaurakshaks and the Gujarat Government, observing May Day among other protests. Najeeb Ahmad, a minority student disappeared from the campus after facing violence from a group of communal lumpens. The VC has shown complete inaction in finding Najeeb. He has given green signal to ABVP lumpens to freely indulge in violence and intimidation by refusing to punish Najeeb’s assaulters even after they have been proven guilty of assaulting and threatening Najeeb in the Proctorial enquiry. Threats and intimidation of student activists and faculty members for protesting at the Administration Block has reached a new height.

JNU admin also understood that, in order to convert JNU campus into an RSS shakha, it is imperative to destroy the structures and policies that make the campus an inclusive and egalitarian space. That is why the most recent round of attacks has been unleashed by the VC, a bid at Shut Down JNU part III. To kill JNU from within, the VC has now imposed the 5th May UGC notification, which will result into massive seat cut, 100% viva weightage and destroy the unique deprivation point of JNU admission policy.

Defend and carry forward the struggles for democratic and socially inclusive campus

The student community in JNU has fought several struggles in JNU to ensure a more inclusive and democratic admission policy. In the early 1990s, the deprivation point system was brought back. More recently, this unique system was expanded. In JNU, we have fought a long battle for ensuring the proper implementation of OBC reservations, and defeated JNU’s illegal “cut-off” criterion  for OBC admissions both in the Delhi High Court (7 Sep 2010) and then again in the Supreme Court (18 Aug 2011). We have ensured recognition of Madarsa certificates in JNU.

The BJP-RSS is hell-bent on destroying campuses like JNU, destroying higher education altogether.

  • In the 2016-17 Union Budget, a massive 55% fund-cut to the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been announced. At a time when at least 10% of the budget allocation should have been on the crucial education sector, the budget is now a mere 3.7% and is being viciously slashed every year. The effects of these massive fund-cuts are there for all of us to see and experience.
  • Just last year, the MHRD dictated UGC’s move to end Non-Net Research Scholarship was resisted and defeated by the massive “Occupy UGC” movement.
  • The Draft of the National Education Policy 2016 of the Modi govt clearly shows the government’s plans to kill every possibility of equal standards of education for everyone. In the name of Open school and colleges and vocational/skill training, the government has chalked out a blue print of low standard and curtailed education for students from disadvantaged background. Massive commercialisation is being proposed in the form of Private Public Partnership.

In these dark times, we can’t and must not allow the stooges of the government, the JNU administration, to push through this anti-student, anti-social justice, anti-democratic UGC circular. The collective gains of the student community in the form of deprivation points, reservations and recommendation for reduction in viva weightage cannot be allowed to be washed away. We must ensure that the 142nd AC meeting is reconvened, the unilateral acceptance of the UGC circular is revoked and the 5th May Gazetteer notification is withdrawn by the UGC.

Rebuff JNU VC’s Overenthusiastic Attempts to Impose the 5th May 2016 UGC Notification- the Blueprint for Seat Cut and Social Exclusion!

We Must Fight Back Now, Fight for a Socially Inclusive JNU!!

कुसुम देवी की अपील – Justice for Dika !

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एक माँ, जिसकी दसवीं में पढने वाली बेटी डीका के साथ सामूहिक बलात्कार कर हत्या कर दी गयी, की अपील !

मैं कुसुम देवी खुरपी-हसुआ चलाकर मजदूरी करती हूँ, लेकिन अपनी बेटी को पढ़ा-लिखा कर होशियार बनाने का सपना देखती थी. आंबेडकर विद्यालय, हाजीपुर में दसवीं की छात्र थी मेरी बेटी डीका कुमारी.

6 जनबरी 2017 को मेरी बेटी ने मुझे फ़ोन कर होस्टल बुलाया. 7 जनबरी को मैं अपनी बेटी के लिए सेवई-पूरी लेकर हॉस्टल पहुंची. मिलते ही डीका बोली माँ मुझे यहाँ से ले चलो. बहुत पूछने पर बताया की एक सर जी कहते हैं की मेरे साथ गलत काम करो, हम तुम्हारा नंबर बढ़बा देंगे. मैंने शिक्षक से बात करना चाहा तो डीका ने मुझे मना किया की नहीं तुम्हारे जाने के बाद ये लोग मुझे मरेंगे. मैंने कोचिंग के बहाने बेटी को घर ले जाने की कोशिश की, तो एक सर जी ने डांट फटकार करते हुए कहा की अकेली तुम्हारी बेटी ही यहाँ पढ़ती है ? मुझे धकेल कर गेट बंद कर दिया गया. मैं बहार रोती रही, फिर बेबस होकर वापस घर लौट आई. दुसरे दिन गाँव के विकास मित्र के जरिए मुझे खबर मिला की डीका ख़त्म हो गयी है. पूरा परिवार रोते बिलखते छात्रावास पहुंचा, तो देखा की नाली में बेटी की लाश परी है. उसके सारे कपड़े फार डाले गए थे उसके शरीर का कोई हिस्सा नहीं था, जहाँ जख्म या चोट ना हो. नाक-मुंह धुल से सना हुआ था. चेहरा व हाँथ चाकू से कटा हुआ था. शरीर का हर अंदरूनी हिस्सा चाकू से चीरा हुआ था. उसके शरीर के भीतर उसका ही जांघिया ठूंसा हुआ था, जिसे मैंने बहार खींचा तो जमा हुआ खून बहार फूंट परा. छात्रावास की लड़कियों ने उसके कपड़े बदले. मैं रोती-चिल्लाती रही, लेकिन वहां उपस्थित पुलिस और टीचर जल्दी से जल्दी मेरी बेटी की लाश ले जाने की कोशिश में लगे थे. मैं शुक्रगुजार हूँ वहां पढने वाली अन्य बेटियों की, जिन्होंने मेरी बेटी की लाश को तब तक रोक रखा था, जब तक हमलोग वहां पहुँच नहीं गए. लेकिन मैं पहुँच कर भी कुछ नहीं कर ना सकी. आनन- फानन में पोस्टमार्टम हुआ और तुरंत ही दबाब डालकर दाह-संस्कार करवा दिया गया. आज दस दिन बाद भी मेरी बेटी का चेहरा मेरी नजरों के सामने घूम रहा है और मेरे मन में बस एक ही हुक उठ रही है की क्या दलित-गरीब की बेटी ऐसे ही नृशंस बलात्कार हत्या की शिकार बनाई जाती रहेगी ! चूँकि उसने यौन अत्याचार को चुपचाप बर्दास्त करने के बदले मूंह खोला, विरोध किया इसलिए उसे क्रूर सजा दी गई. मेरी बेटी बहादुर व मजबूत थी एक दो लोगों का मुकाबला तो वह अकेले कर सकती थी. इसलिए भेदियों के झूंड ने उसे अपना शिकार बनाया.उसके शरीर का एक-एक जखम यह साबित कर रहा था की वह बचाव में किस कदर लड़ी थी. लेकिन एस.पी. साहब जज बनकर फैसला सुना रहे हैं की ‘बलात्कार की पुष्टि नहीं होती’. डी.एम्. जिनके घर पर स्कूल की गार्ड तैनात रहती है, उन्होंने भी चुप्पी साध राखी है. जो प्राचार्य खुद लड़कियों को धमकती हैं, उस प्राचार्य समेत कोई शिक्षिका इस आवासीय विद्यालय में नहीं रहती. इस छात्रावास में कोपी किताब, डॉक्टर दबाई तो दूर की बात पीने के पानी का इंतजाम नहीं था. लगता है गरीब के घर पैदा होने वाले बच्चों को कुछ टुकड़े फेंक कर सरकार का काम ख़त्म हो जाता है. जिस छात्रवास में बाप-माई या सगे-सम्बन्धी पुरूषों को घुसने नहीं दिया जाता, लड़कियों को गेट से बहार निकलने नही दिया जाता, उसी छात्रावास के भीतर ही मेरी बेटी मार डाली गई. जिनके हाँथ में बेटी को सौपा था भविष्य बनाने के लिए, उन्हीं लोगों ने उसके साथ यह सलूक किया क्यों की वह उनकी काली करतूतों के लिए खतरा बन गई थी. लेकिन सर्कार चुप है क्यों की बात खुलेगी तो कई बड़े-बड़े लोगों के चेहरे पर से पर्दा हटेगा और सिर्फ अम्बद्कर विद्यालय हाजीपुर ही नहीं, बिहार के ऐसे सभी आवासीय विद्यालयों की सच्चाई सतह पर आ जाएगी. मैं अनपढ़ गरीब माँ और मेरी बहादुर बरती डीका बस एक सम्मानजनक भविष्य का छोटा सा सपना देखते थे. आज वह सपना भी मुझसे छीन लिया गया ! मैं बस न्याय चाहती हूँ. न्याय मांगती हूँ ताकि मेरी तरह कोई और डीका की माँ में ना बदल दी जाए.

#JusticeForDika

कुसुम देवी,

डीका जैसी बेटियों की माँ

ऐपवा-आइसा-इनौस द्वारा प्रसारित ।

AISA Statement – Against Bombay HC’s Bail to the Killers of Mohsin Citing His Muslim Identity as ‘Provocation’!

 

Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court

 

SHAME!

Bombay HC Grants Bail to the Killers of Mohsin: Shamelessly Citing His Muslim Identity as ‘Provocation’!

 

Just after the BJP victory in Lok Sabha elections, in June 2014, a young Muslim IT professional Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh was brutally beaten to death on a Pune street by the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) mob wielding hockey sticks and stones. In a case of premeditated communal hate crime, Mohsin was targeted for the markers of his Muslim identity beard, skull cap and Pathani suit as he was on his way back from offering evening prayers at a mosque. After the brutal violence and killing of Mohsin, members of the HRS gang even shamefully exchanged a jeering message on their mobile phones that read pahili wicket padli (the first wicket has fallen) after BJPs victory. Now the Bombay High Court has shamelessly granted bail to three of the 21 arrested in the Mohsin murder case. In her January 12 order, Justice Mridula Bhatkar shockingly observed that the fault of the deceased was that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. More-over, it appears that in the name of the religion, they (the accused) were provoked and have committed the murder. The bail order in the Mohsin case chillingly reminds us of several such travesties in justice. These judgments are no different from the society issuing moralized suggestions such as appropriate clothing for women to avoid rape and in cases of racist violence and attack on people from the north-east, police forces blaming their smelly food habits as reason enough for provocation! It is in similar justifications like this issued by the judiciary and state machinery, where the very existence of marginality becomes a ‘provocation’ for violence. AISA expresses deep shock and condemnation at the absurd bail order and observation by the Bombay High Court and its utter failure to deliver justice to the victim of minority hate-crime and demands strictest punishment against the HRS culprits. The saffron right-wing has always indulged in a vicious communal propaganda and tried to shape the mainstream political and media discourse against religious minorities with constant mischievous references to love jihad, pink revolution, ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Pak terrorists.

The shocking observations by the Bombay High Court order has the danger of conferring “legal” sanctity to communal prejudice and violence that is being sought to be normalised in the country. It is high time that we reassert that country must be governed by Constitutional morality, Constitutional rights and Constitutional principles and not by majoritarian prejudice. The Supreme Court must take suo motto cognizance of the shocking Bombay High Court observations and annul the order. In these dark times we must intensify our collective struggles against this grave injustice and resist this communal commonsense.

One Year Since Rohith’s Institutional Murder! Demand Rohith Act!

IMG-20170111-WA0028

 

One Year Since Rohith’s Institutional Murder in HCU

Students against RSS: the Battle for Justice and Equality; Against Discrimination and Victimisation Continues!

Intensify the Agitation for Rohith, for Najeeb!

Defeat the Nexus of RSS-Puppet Administration in Universities!

Demand Rohith Act!

On the coming 17 January, it will be one year since Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder in the HCU. He, along with four more activists of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA – HCU), was suspended from the University after ABVP (student wing of RSS) filed a complaint against them. Political vendetta and targeting was clear: no less than Smriti Irani, the then MHRD, intervened on the basis of the ABVP’s complaint. Two union ministers (Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani) instructed the HCU administration to dance to the tunes of ABVP. This resulted in the punishment of five Dalit students, violating all norms of enquiry and justice. Rohith Vemula, who made it to a Central University defeating formidable structural discrimination that Dalits in this country face to access higher education, was pushed to death.

An unprecedented upsurge followed. Students from universities all across the country demanded #JusticeForRohithVemula. We demanded punishment of the HCU VC, Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya for misusing their office to fulfil RSS’ agenda. We demanded that a Rohith Act be passed to make caste based discrimination in educational institutions a punishable offense.

Rather than listening to the demand of a Rohith Act, the then MHRD hit out from the floor of the Parliament to Rohith and his comrades. BJP-RSS-ABVP started a full-fledged campaign to vilify Rohith, denying his Dalit identity and his subsequent victimisation.

Today, students in Indian universities are facing exactly what the RSS-BJP-ABVP want to hide. Today, students in our universities are in a battle against the RSS’s road map of converting universities to prisons where ideas are curtailed, dissent is crushed and struggle for universal right to quality education, equality and freedom of expression is silenced:

  • Rohith was pushed to his death in HCU. And Najeeb Ahmad, the JNU student who has been missing since more than two months, was subjected to violence and threats to his life by ABVP goons before he disappeared. Threat, violence, disappearance: this is RSS’s dream project for minorities in India. And pliant University administrations are shamelessly aiding and abetting this project. The JNU administration framed Najeeb himself as an accused, and has only issued token ‘punishments’ to the ABVP goons who assaulted him in full public view. JNU VC has instead served notice to those students who protested against the ABVP, demanding justice for Najeeb.
  • Nine students from marginalised sections were suspended by the JNU VC without even any chance of defending themselves being given. The VC who himself violated procedures and forcibly imposed his agenda on the AC meeting suspended these students alleging disruption of the same.
  • A Dalit school going student was beaten by his classmates in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. His crime? He scored well in exams which according to casteist norms, Dalits are not supposed to do.
  • Five Dalit students and activists of EFLU Hyderabad have been charged with defamation from a faculty member because they complained of caste-based discrimination. Systematic Push Out of students from marginalised sections from universities continue. And now talking about it is deemed ‘defamatory’.
  • Eight Dalit students of the BBAU, Lucknow have been rusticated by the puppet administration of the university. These students are Ambedkarite activists who have been a part of the BBAU students’ agitation to defend reservations in the university and against RSS takeover of University spaces.
  • Seven students of BHU have been rusticated for sitting in hunger strike demanding 24×7 library facilities in the university. The BHU VC, who takes pride in identifying himself as a RSS sympathiser, has seen a ‘violation of BHU tradition’ in this demand. To convert a central university into RSS’s dream laboratory, the BHU administration imposes atrocious sexist rules on women students. Police action on students and explicit threats by the VC are the new normal.
  • UGC has come out with a dangerous notification (5th May, 2016) which instructs universities to allot 100% weightage in viva-voce in entrance exam. If implemented, this would mean denial of admission to students from marginalised backgrounds. Subjective biases based on social prejudices determine viva marking unlike comparatively more objective evaluation in written. JNU VC has recently forcibly imposed this on the admission process. If not resisted, this would be the reality in all our universities.

Wherever students are asserting the idea of a university as a space that rejects caste-based hierarchy and communal division, that defends the right to free speech and critical thinking, that upholds the idea of quality and accessible education for all – they have been attacked by RSS’s agents inside universities. The ABVP has attacked AISA activists and vandalised Pinjra Tod’s programs in DU. They have attacked students remembering Ambedkar on his anniversary in Allahabad University.

These goons have been given full protection and patronage by administrations who are puppets of the RSS. While the RSS is in a war mode against knowledge, rationality, justice and equality inside universities, students all across the country are not ready to leave an inch in their struggle to defend azaadi from casteism, communal violence, sexist rules and witch-hunt of political expressions.

When we are approaching one year of struggle demanding #JusticeforRohith, let us once again rise up in rage to demand a Rohith Act. Let us intensify the agitation against RSS’s takeover of University spaces.