Tag Archive for Hindu right wing violence

Rohith Vemula suicide: My birth is my fatal accident!

rohith-vemula-death

Feminists India is reproducing two letters, one written by Rohith Vemula himself, before he committed suicide in his friends’ university hostel room and the second letter by a Dalit PHD candidate, Pabitra Das, who has joined the hunger strike organised by students demanding justice for Rohith and other Dalit students

Rohith Vemula, took his life on 17 January, just few months after he was expelled from the Hyderabad Central University. His suicide has sparked outrage across the nation and has been widely perceived as a result of caste-based discrimination Dalit students face in upper caste dominated educational institutions across India. The Hyderabad Central University stopped Rohith’s doctoral stipend and expelled him and other four students of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) from the university hostel. This was after the right wing ABVP student union expressed objection to Rohith and other four Dalit students who had a organised a discussion and protest meet on the hanging of Yakub Memon, a convict in 1993 Bombay bombings.

Rohith Vemula’s suicide note:
Good morning,
I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.

People may dub me as a coward.

And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.

“From shadows to the stars.”

Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.

To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.

For one last time, Jai Bheem

I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.

No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.

This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.

Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.” -

- Rohith Vemula

Why I am Joining the Hunger Strike to demand Justice for Rohit Vemula by Pabitra Das

The tragic death of research scholar Rohit Vemula of Hyderabad University has deeply disturbed me. Rohit was a dalit student who had faced so many odds in his life to pursue his dreams. He wanted to be a science writer like Carl Sagan. Yet, he could not fulfil his dream because he was unjustly treated by the Hyderabad University administration. He was forced to commit suicide because of combined persecution by the central Ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, Hyderabad University VC and the ABVP. They called him “casteist” and “anti-national”. They threw him out of the university hostel by framing false charges against him. All this happened because he was carrying forward the ideology of Dr. Ambedkar, who drafted India’s Constitution and fought throughout his life for the cause of the dalits.

I am also a dalit student, pursuing PhD in Computer Science from University of Calcutta. I come from Baharamuri village situated in the Bankura district of West Bengal. My father is a primary school teacher. I know what it means for a student from my background to make it to higher education. My family had to undergo so many sacrifices to ensure my education. Students like me also face regular discrimination and harassment at various stages. Those from privileged social backgrounds often do not realize how difficult it is for poor dalit students to survive in higher education.

With the injustice done to Rohit Vemula by the BJP Ministers and Hyderabad University VC, the entire dalit student community is feeling humiliated and alienated. The only ray of hope is that students are protesting all over the country against this. The students of Hyderabad University are continuing with the hunger strike, which was started by Rohit Vemula. In Kolkata too, our friend Deborshi Chakraborty has courageously started a hunger strike in solidarity with the struggle. I am joining the hunger strike in front of Kolkata’s Jadavpur University campus from today evening. I am appealing to all my friends and fellow students to extend support to this movement. I also appeal to all progressive student organisations to join in solidarity.

The BJP Minister Bandaru Dattatreya who called Rohit Vemula “casteist” and “anti-national” must resign. The HRD Minister who pressurized the Hyderabad University to throw out Rohit Vemula must resign. The Hyderabad University VC must be removed. Government must take responsibility of Rohit Vemula’s family by giving adequate compensation. Government must discuss the present plight of dalit students in higher educational institutions in parliament and implement measures to stop discrimination and harassment of dalit students.

Let us unite to ensure justice for Rohit Vemula.

Sd/-

Pabitra Das
Kolkata, 23rd January 2016

Stop killing people in the name of cows

Hindu-terrorism

Activists, writers, teachers and students hold protest rally in Hyderabad against the communal killing at Dadri and the casteist violence in Faridabad that claimed the lives of two children

By Team FI
A press release issued by a collective of activists, writers, and individuals detailed their protest on Thursday, in Tank Bund, Hyderabad, in front of the Ambedkar statue. The protest was, the release stated, against “growing spate of atrocities on Dalits and Muslims.”

Given below is the full text of the release:
A group of activists, students and teachers came together today at 6 pm in front of Ambedkar Statue in Tank Bund, Hyderabad to protest the growing spate of atrocities on dalits and muslims. Linking this casteist and communal violence, the protesters held signs such as “Dalit Lives Matter”, “Muslim lives matter” “Stop killing people in the name of cows” and “Annihilate caste! End the murders of dalit children”.

Writers Joopaka Subadra and Professor Sujatha Surepally spoke of the inhumane treatment of dalits and muslims in the name of beef protection, while activist Krupakar Madiga condemned the casteist murder of entire families including children, such as the recent attack on a Dalit family where the whole family was burnt alive and two children died due to their burns in Ballabhgar-Faridabad.

This comes after a history of violence against the community, with another earlier attack in June by the Jats to assert their caste power after the election of a Dalit sarpanch in the area. The Ror community had also attacked Dalits in the area as a mob in April 2013 after an intercaste marriage between a Ror woman and a Dalit man; and 15 Dalit houses were burnt in Mirchpur village in 2011 by Jats.

These attacks are not unrelated to the mounting communal violence in Atali in the same area, where a Muslim man grazing his cattle was attacked with axes, and the entire Muslim community was attacked over the establishment of a mosque on Waqf land. In all these incidents the police and administration explicitly sided with the dominant caste Hindu majority community. This incident comes on the heels of incident in Dankaur where the police themselves stripped and sexually assaulted a family that was protesting police inaction on the issue of the theft of their belongings.

The police have then filed cases of obscenity on the family themselves!

These charges against Sunil Gautam and his family must be IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAWN! The BJP and right wing forces are building up their base on the caste and communal pride of dominant caste Hindu communities. Despite their attempts to appropriate Babasaheb Ambedkar their position on basic issues of political representation and even nutrition of the Dalit community is very clear and similar to their position on Muslim minorities.

The incident of murder of a Muslim man Mohd. Aqlakh who was suspected to be storing beef in his fridge in Dadri by a mob whipped up by the local BJP MLA Somnath Som (who himself ran a beef export company); the severe beating by Bajrang Dal activists of Ibrahim Padubidri who was a cattle trader in Karkala, Udipi; and the mob thrashing until death of a cattle trader in Himachal Pradesh; the murder of Zahid Ahmed in Jammu following rumours of cow slaughter when his cows died of food poisoning – these are all direct attacks on the main source of affordable protein for Dalits, Muslims and working class masses of the country. This chain of attacks must be protested by all those who fight the trend of majoritarian tyranny and who stand for secularism.

Protect Judge who put Naroda Patiya convicts behind bars

Jyotsna-Yagnik

Even as Judge Jyotsana Yagnick who convicted Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi (both out on bail) for the Naroda Patiya massacre is being intimidated with threatening letters, government delays response on her request to protection which was scaled down from Z-plus to Y category

By Team FI

Following reports of retired Judge Jyotsana Yagnik, receiving threatening letters and blank phone calls, civil society organisations have written an open letter to the Gujarat Government and to the public to take serious note of the intimidation.

Yagnik whose judgement had convicted erstwhile BJP Minister Maya Kodnani and former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi along with 30 others for the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre has so far received 22 threatening letters and a number of blank phone calls. However, pointed out the letter, that though “62 year old judge informed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigations Team (SIT) about the threats and phone calls, instead of strengthening her protection, the government has scaled down her security cover.”

As per news reports, the security cover was scaled down Y category from the Z-plus she had when she the Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge in Ahmedabad. The intimidation had begun soon after the verdict and Yagnik worried about her family’s safety had informed the SIT. Indian Express quotes SIT Additional Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia “that in the last six- eight months, he had not come across threat letters to any judge, including Yagnik. “I don’t know if she received (the letters) before that,” Bhatia said.” He however said that the Yagnik’s request to step up the protection is pending before the government. It must be noted here that both the main convicts of the case are out on bail. Kodnani was released on bail by the Gujarat High Court in July last year while Bajrangi got out on bail on April 23, 2015, on the claim that he was going blind.

Following is the full text of the letter

OPEN LETTER TO GUJARAT GOVT AND TO PUBLIC

Resist degradation of Indian criminal justice system.

Retired Judge Jyotsana Yagnik threatened; murder convicts out on bail.

The undersigned civil society organizations and concerned citizens have taken serious note of a news report (IE May 11, 2015) about the intimidation of a retired judge, Ms Jyotsana Yagnik, who, in her capacity as special judge had, in August 2012, convicted former Gujarat BJP minister Maya Kodnani, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 30 others in the 2002 massacre of 97 Muslims in Naroda Patiya. Ms Yagnik has received at least 22 threat letters since the verdict, as well as blank phone calls at her home. The 62 year old judge has informed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigations Team about the threats and phone calls, but instead of strengthening her protection, the government has scaled down her security cover.

The SIT convenor and Additional DIG of Police has denied knowledge of the letters, according to the news-report. Meanwhile convict Maya Kodnani, condemned to life imprisonment as principal conspirator in a massacre, has been out on bail since mid-2014, and convict Babu Bajrangi, sentenced to imprisonment till death is now about to enjoy three months bail for medical treatment.

The Indian criminal justice system is being politically degraded with every passing day. With regard to the violence in Gujarat in 2002, there have been instances of several encounter-accused policemen being re-instated and cases against them being quietly dropped. Meanwhile in Maharashtra, there is no sign that the murderers of Narendra Dabholkar and Gobind Pansare will ever be caught. In Bihar, the acquittals of those accused of massacring Dalits in Shankarbigha and Bathani-tola show that the justice system is incapable or unwilling to punish those who commit mass crimes. Now we have an upright judge being threatened, whilst murder convicts guilty of heinous crimes are out on bail, and suspended policemen obtain re-instatement

An onslaught on justice is taking place in broad daylight. It is now clear that the Modi-led government finds India’s criminal justice system and independent judiciary to be an obstacle blocking its long-term plans. The incidence of prejudice in the courts is nothing new – the 1984 pogrom inaugurated a new era in the erosion of Indian justice. The NDA government has given impetus to this process. The ideological hooligans of the so-called ‘Sangh parivar’ are convinced they are above the law. Corruption does not merely have monetary implications. The erosion of judicial independence taking place before our eyes is also corruption.

Building trustworthy public institutions is a prolonged process that takes decades. But they can be destroyed very rapidly, especially when state power is used (covertly or
openly), to intimidate judges like Ms Jyotsna Yagnik

Criminals these days feel free to physically intimidate the judiciary, and the police appear to be treating it as a minor matter. Threatening a judge exemplifies a fascist mentality. Politicised justice breeds hatred and despair among its victims. Those who manipulate justice, on the other hand, are announcing their profound contempt for the very value of justice. They are sending all of us a sinister message –justice is whatever we say it is. Let us remind ourselves, therefore, that if justice becomes a device for strengthening one political group at the expense of others, for eliminating enemies and assisting allies, law will have cast off even the mask of neutrality. If judicial decisions become predictable, this can only mean that the judiciary has been compromised and hooliganism has entered the working of the state at the highest levels. Only an alert public can defeat this kind of politics.

By undermining the citizens’ faith in a fearless judiciary, the elimination of law will threaten the very foundations of the democratic state. All elected representatives should remember that the Constitution is the fundamental statute of the Indian Union, which protects us from violent and tyrannical behaviour by criminals and/or persons in power. If they keep silent in the face of the ongoing sabotage of justice, our MP’s and MLA’s shall be betraying their oath of office. We ask all judicial, police & IAS officials to remember their oath of loyalty to the Indian Constitution.

In light of the above, we demand that the Gujarat government take immediate steps to ensure Ms Jyotsana Yagnik’s safety, and investigate the threats she has received. If any harm comes to this judge, the Gujarat government and its patron at the Centre will be held responsible by public opinion.

We call upon all democratic civil society organizations and concerned individuals to launch a campaign to strengthen the criminal justice system and the autonomy of the judiciary. Instances of the perversion of justice by any party, official or civil, should be highlighted and resisted.