Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to woo Dalits after Rohith Vemula’s suicide

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Lucknow with a well-conceived plan to woo Dalit vote bank of the most crucial and populous state of northern India, – an obvious attempt of realigning Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) for the general 2017 assembly polls, but his aim was virtually scattered when some Dalit students openly disrupted his speech at the convocation of Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU). Dalit students raised issues relating to growing intolerance resulting in Hyderabad suicide incident and caste bias against them in campuses of various academic institutions under his governance and unlawful treatment that they experienced in BBAU.

Red-faced Modi was stunned and stared at them who were whisked away in custody by security personnel. Later in his dull speech Modi broke his silence over the issue and said, I can feel the pain of Rohith’s mother as nation too lost a son. Later Modi also visited Ambedkar Mahasabha campus here in the state’s capital, where he offered floral tribute on the urn that preserves his mortal remains, as a part of meticulously planned agenda.

He showered praises for Dr Ambedkar vision and economy model and claimed, “I am a stanch follower of his footprints in conceiving his dreams and accordingly promoting start up, stand up India and skill development programmes. These are designed with the coordination of Banks to finance youths without any security.”

The large scale angry protests were witnessed in Lucknow too against the role of two senior ministers of union cabinet who,allegedly,created unfair and depressing circumstances for a Dalit research scholar, RohithVemula who committed suicide in centrally governed Hyderabad University. The Dalit students of BBAU feel that similar designs of forces of Hindutva have been prevailing here in Lucknow as were in Hyderabad. Political analysts says, “Ambedkar lived and died for the betterment of Dalits and downtrodden section of society and opposed forces of Hindutva throughout his life as he never favoured their philosophy of Manu’s law. He was a born Hindu but he adopted Baudh Dharm after finding it discriminatory.”

Hyderabad like allegations of caste discrimination and bias against Vice Chancellor Prof. R.C. Sobtiand Proctor Prof. Kamal Jaiswalhave been surfaced in BBAU that forced the Dalit students to disrupt convocation speech of Prime Minister to draw his attention to stop another Hyderabad like unfortunate incident. Union HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani was seized with the matter but she has not taken any initiative to resolve the confrontation sizzling in the campus. She publically in function snubbed embarrassing overdoing of its Vice Chancellor Prof Sobti. BBAU incidents paint the institution in bad light in wake of nationwide protests over the ill-treatment that Dalit students received from such authorities. BBAU Dalit students marched up to the Gandhi statue installed in GPO Park with lightening candles in their hands to protest democratically against the tragic suicide case of a Dalit scholar in Hyderabadand apathy of BBAU administration towards their grievances,just on the eve of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lucknow and their institution BBAU.

In view of growing support from all section of society, the Dalit students have mustered courage to speak up against injustice and caste bias they are facing in the BBAU, that is, ironically, named after most respected nation’s Dalit icon Dr. Ambedkar who fought all his life to ensure justice and equality for poor and downtrodden classes of the society, constitutionally. A post graduate student Shreyat Boudha who leads the voice of Dalit students in the campus told, Tehelka correspondent with a heavy heart, “Here too the voice of dissent turned into silence and wished that perhaps PM Modi would take up the issue in his address that attracted all-round protests from intelligentsia of our nation.”

Narrating his tale of woes, he asserted, “pursuing the ideals of Dr Ambedkar I joined post-graduation in History with special programme focused on economic issues relating to downtrodden classes in BBAU in 2014. I did my graduation from Allahabad University. Confrontation started shortly after my admission when the Dalit students of the university raised objections against the University administration’s decision to name the university library after SardarVallabhbhai Patel, an icon suddenly become dearer to BJP led dispensation. We protested the decision as Patel never subscribed to Ambedkar’s ideology.

Demonstrations and struggle led by me as a part of Ambedkar University Dalit Students’ group ultimately succeeded in bending the university administration to amend its decision to name the library after ‘Gautam Buddha’in the January last year. ”

“It was not the end of matter, I was in the hit list of administration because I united Dalit students, educated them and raised voice of dissent that led to renaming of University library. Soon other issue cropped up with regard to unreasonable hike in fees. It was raised eight times in a go. We were pushed to a corner either to fight against this social injustice or leave our studies in a midway,”said Boudha with pain and anguish.

The collusion story here runs parallel to Hyderabad. ShreyatBoudha muster the support of more and more Dalit students on the issue of arbitrary eight times hike in fees. On 16th August, 2015 they all were discussing over dinner in the mess how to overcome from new problem as no one was mentally prepare to bear such irrational act of the administration.All of sudden without any provocation a group of upper caste students led by one Amit Gupta, allegedly, physically attacked ShreyatBoudha and some other Dalit students for protesting fee hike. They used unparliamentary and abusive language and badly assaulted us when we tried to convince them about our poverty.

“I gave written complaint to Proctor Prof Kamal Jaiswal about the incident but he deliberately did not initiate action against the culprits, as later from his inaction and motivated action against us we developed a sense of realization that he was too in hand and glove with the upper caste group of attackers. Instead of taking disciplinary action against them they allowed them to register criminal cases against us with the police. By the time we could understand their game and file our FIR police had already arrested three of us for assaulting them while actually they assaulted us and we reported first to Proctor,Boudhaopined.”

The Dalit students, who preferred not to be named as revelation could harm their academic prospects, told, “Just within two days of FIR against our group leaders, the administration on 18th August, 2015 issued suspension orders against our three leaders. Their entry to the campus were banned. The hostel rooms too got vacated forthwith. They were not even allowed to appear in semester examinations held in December, 2015.

Suspended  student leader Boudha wished, “If he could be allowed to display series of incidents of injustice with Dalit students before Prime Minister where they were denied even an opportunity to put forth his version before taking extreme step of suspension  ruining the career of young Dalit boys but I was threatened if I go there and raise these issues be ready to face the charges of being anti national and sedition.”He pledged to continue his fight for justice with all lawful ways.

On the other hand Grandson of Dr Ambedkar and President of Republican Sena Anandraj Ambedkar,50,reacted sharply over Modi’s much-hyped visit to Ambedkar Mahasabha to pay floral tribute to dalit icon, “theBJP is not practicing what it preaches. BJP is just trying to grab the name of Ambedkar.They have no intentions of following his philosophy.” On the recent steps taken by PM Modi and BJP to show their affinity towards the dalit icon, his grandson said, “The BJP leaders have a habit of doing pick and choose.They were forced to bank on Babasaheb’s legacy as it did not have any `towering’ icon of its own.”(t.)