Dalit students who heckled Narendra Modi are now ‘lead protest speakers’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/dalit-students-who-heckled-narendra-modi-are-now-lead-protest-speakers/

Dalit students who heckled Narendra Modi are now ‘lead protest speakers’

On February 14, Ramkaran Nirmal and Amarendra Kumar Arya were in Ghazipur where they addressed a gathering of students at Ambedkar Uddyan.

A few minutes of raising slogans in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the suicide of research scholar Rohith Vemula has pushed two Dalit youths into the forefront of protest politics with the duo getting invites from across Uttar Pradesh to address functions.

Ramkaran Nirmal and Amrendra Kumar Arya had raised the slogans of “Narendra Modi go back” and “Rohith hum sharminda hain, Dronacharya abhi zinda hai (Rohith, we are ashamed that Dronacharya is still alive)” when PM was addressing the students during convocation ceremony of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, in Varanasi on January 22.

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On February 13, Nirmal and Arya attended a function organised by All India Ambedkar Students Association, which has the support of BHU SC/ST Teachers’ Welfare Society. “It was attended by Dalit, OBC and other students of BHU, Kashi Vidyapeeth and UP College. I appealed to them to oppose Modi’s visit to Varanasi on February 22 on Ravidas Jayanti. We have to stand up against injustice,” Nirmal told The Indian Express.

He said Arya too accompanied him during the event. “We move together,” Nirmal said.

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“We are receiving calls from across UP from people inviting us for attending functions. Now, we are so pressed for time that we have cancelled several invites,” Nirmal said.

On February 14, Nirmal and Arya were in Ghazipur where they addressed a gathering of students at Ambedkar Uddyan. “I have received an invite from Ballia but I have to cancel it as there is urgent situation in JNU and we are leaving for Delhi,” Nirmal said.

Another programme in Gorakhpur has been put on hold due to their prior engagements, they claimed. “We received several invites from Lucknow. We are yet to finalise them,” he claimed.

Prior to it, the duo travelled to Hyderabad Central University followed by JNU and Delhi University. Now, they will be attending a protest march on February 23 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and also have plans to meet BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar. Amidst this, they collected their degrees and gold medals from Ambedkar BBA University in Lucknow on February 11.

Apart from Dalit groups, Left leaning bodies such as AISA and SFI too have invited them. “We accept invites from progressive people. We speak for all Dalits, Muslims, OBC and women,” Nirmal said.

“Our demands remain the same. We are pushing fort justice for Rohith Vemula who was forced to commit suicide due to political reasons. Our demands include action and FIR against vice-chancellor (of Hyderabad university) , and Union Ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani; Rs 50 lakh compensation to Rohith’s family and job to his brother,” Nirmal said.