Stop the deification and appropriation of Babasaheb: Dalit youth to the Sangh Parivar

On January 22, 2016, graduate students of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University Lucknow, created history of sorts when they raised sharp and aggressive slogans against Narendra Modi, the prime minister. “Modi go back,” they shouted as he addressed the Convocation barely four days after Rohith Vemula’s “institutional murder” on January 17.

“If we had not protested, Modi would not have apologized,” Ram Karan Nirmal and Amrendra Singh Arya told Communalism Combat in this exclusive interview. Done in collaboration with and Hillele, these two students and another, Manoj Kumar spoke at length on issues of discrimination and redressal in Indian society and on the campus. Teesta Setalvad of Communalism Combat conducted the interview.

“This is the first time after the Mandal commission agitation that campuses across the country are aflame with cries for justice.  Caste, gender and minority rights, these are the three issues around which youngsters are agitating. All progressive forces need to join in.”

‘Today, even after the enactment of the Right to Education Act (RTE) and the provision that there should be 25 per cent entry to lesser privileged children, most schools do not meet this requirement. Those that do, single these children out, brand them, cut their hair, differentiate them; it is shameful,” Amrendra Arya.

“The movement that has begun with the death/sacrifice of Rohith Vemula is not going to stop. India is a land of the youth. The youth want this country to change: they want casteism, gender and religious discrimination to go,” Ram Karan Nirmal.

“The nature of casteism may have changed but caste discrimination has not disappeared. I recall one bitter experience at the Banaras Hindu University where I had completed my LLB. I was presenting a paper on “The Marxist Theory of International Relations. I had worked hard and thought I did a good job. You know what the professor remarked? “Until now Brahmans and Rajputs used to speak. Now ‘others’ have also started speaking!’”  This hurt me and made me feel very uncomfortable,” Manoj Kumar.

“There are so many vacant seats in central universities, this need to be filled. Adequate representation at all levels is a must, even in the judiciary, “Ram Karan.

“Others say, Garv se kahon ham Rajput hai!. When will we able to say, “Garv se kahon ham Dhobhi ya Chamar hai?” Manoj Kumar.

“This appropriation of Babsaheb Ambedkar is nothing short of a deification and saffronisation of a personality. Babasaheb was rational and scientific. You cannot deify him and take away this essence, which is a sharp critique of the Hindu religion itself which anoints and legitimises caste,” Ram Karan Nirmal.

“The RSS move to have a Samrasta Week –to assimilate or appropriate Dalits is hypocritical. As Dalits we eat non-vegetarian food. Then why the Samrasta week with enforced vegetarianism, without our food our culture?”  Manoj Kumar.

“The patriarchal and casteist attitude towards Rohith Vemula’s mother, Radhika questioning her Dalit identity; the behaviour of ministers Bangaru Dattarya and Appa Rao (Vice Chancellor)  is simply trying to weaken the movement. But this movement is not going away.” – Ram Karan, Manoj Kumar, Amrendra Arya.



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