‘There have been systematic attacks on Dalit and Adivasi students as they enter higher education over the past twenty years. It is visible in coastal areas of the south and northern India This has happened under all governments but this regime has perfected it. We need to ask, why these attacks?
'Let us not forget the Karamchedu massacres Or the killings at Chunduru.
'All of these attacks and humiliations have been aimed at students or youth who have fought and won, access to higher education against all odds. They have been challenging the streaks and systems who have slaughtered their families.
‘From this, what is visible is a new type of Atrocity that has begun from 2002: 15 PHD scholars in one stroke –who had faced several challenges to reach and become PHD students –they had struggled against feudal elements in their own villages; they had struggled against their own friends who have discriminated against them; many were not fluent in English’ — through sheer merit in their subjects they had risen within a discriminatory system. Facing and chasing these difficulties these scholars had come into institutes of higher education and found (and still find) that in the allotment of research guides, and in disbursement of the their scholarship(s) there is entrenched discrimination.
'In one stroke in 2002, 15 of these students who had been agitating this discrimination were, in one stroke declared as ‘goondas.’ All of them were not just suspended. The same Appa Rao (suspended Vice Chancellor, Hyderabad Central University (HCU) who was then Registrar in the same university actually incited them (the authorities) to rusticate them from the HCU.
‘That is when we Dalit rights organistions felt that this was a huge area in which to work on.
‘I am only saying this that after 2002 –again in 2015, the same forces have re-emerged politically. We have had 42 suicides. Despite this background (and the resistance) another Rohith Vemula phenomenon emerged and for the first time the caste issue is being raised as a national debate. And after that, we see what has happened in JNU
‘It is time we gather our forces together and challenge these systems at every step.We are with the movement(s) to protect democracy in HCU and JNU. We are the ones who are protecting nationalism, we must remember that.
‘We must remember that every Adivasi, every Dalit stands against odds and we must stand with them (when they face discrimination) in their allotment of scholarships, guides, hostel seats, and ensure that, through abuses they are not driven away
‘We have seen what has happened in the IITs, the AIMS and in several other universities. We must stand in solidarity with Adivais, Dalits and the Minorities
‘Apart from political freedom we must protest the diversion of funds meant for these students and protest institutions like the UGC diverting monies, crores of rupees into other activities.
‘We must give a warning to this government. WE support the JNU. Leaders and those struggling in all progressive movements’
Paul Diwakar, General Secretary, is National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. He was speaking at a Dharna organized in support of the striking students of JNU.