A year after research scholar Rohith Vemula’s alleged suicide, students and academicians have called for a unified organisation to voice concerns of the oppressed communities. Remembering Vemula, his colleague from Hyderabad Central University who was also among the five suspended Dalit students, Sunkanna Velpula, said, “Ambedkarite organisations must unify to fight against discrimination and work for the upliftment of the Dalit community.”
Velpula is a post-doctoral research fellow at IIT-Bombay. Bhansidhar Deep, one of the founders of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, said Dalit students are subjected to multiple levels of discrimination as soon as they step foot in a university.
Deep was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Multiple Discriminations and Contemporary Students’ Politics In Indian Higher Education’ at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He said activism and academics were not exclusive for students belonging to the oppressed caste. “We have been used and thrown from every possible spectrum — social, political and economic,” said G G Wankhede, former Dean, School of Education, TISS.
“It is our responsibility to educate those who are uninitiated about discrimination and organise them,” said Deep. The discussion was followed by a candlelight vigil in the campus.