Bhopal The present dalit students vs Jiwaji University, Gwalior administration row is not an isolated incident. Tension had been building on the campus since BJP’s massive victory in 2014 Lok Sabha elections when right wing organization ABVP allegedly started dominating the varsity campus.
Two of the five dalit students who started observing indefinite fast since Saturday to protest university administration’s denial to allow them to hold a programme ahead of Ambedkar jayanti and alleged misbehavior with them by two professors were admitted to a private hospital on Thursday when their condition deteriorated.
While shouting ‘Hume chaahiye azadi’ and ‘Hum lekar rahenge azadi’, dalit students said they had been facing injustice for the past three years and they wanted freedom from castiest mindset of the administration and suppressing of democracy on the campus by right wing organization like ABVP and RSS which are openly recruiting members.
However, the university administration alleges the students’ agitation was influenced by protest of Kanhaiya Kumar on JNU campus and Rohith Vemula’s suicide at Hyderabad University. These dalit students want an overnight publicity and their act amounts to anti-national activities.
The trigger point was a seminar organized by ABVP in the university in September 2014. Students were asked to attend the seminar compulsorily. When some dalit students refused to follow the diktat on the ground of their ideology the ABVP workers allegedly misbehaved with students.
The dalit students alleged no action was taken against ABVP workers. On the contrary they were being harassed for quite sometime in the name of membership drive of ABVP and RSS. They were also targeted for availing reservation in government jobs and scholarships on the university campus.
The university administration allegedly reduced the scholarship of SC/ST students. Students fought for three years and had to move the high court, Gwalior bench too to get full scholarship.
What added fuel to fire between the two sides further was alleged attack by BJYM workers on JNU professor Dr Sunil Kumar Suman during his programme in Gwalior in February 2016. A good number of dalit students were attending the programme when the attack took place.
“After this programme, whenever the students supporting BJYM spotted us they yelled at us. For the past one year, they are calling us anti-nationals and the university administration has no problem with them,” said another student Ray Singh.
In February this year ABVP workers reached the venue of a programme organised by Student Federation of India (SFI) and asked the participants to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. On refusal the ABVP workers went on the rampage.
“Earlier, we were known as dalit and now they have put the tag of anti-national on us for shouting slogans like ‘Hume chahiye azadi’ and carrying the photo of Rohith Vemula,” said a dalit student Suman.
Refuting all the allegations, ABVP organizing secretary of Gwalior Vipin Gupta said, “The students have insulted our teachers and that’s why we are supporting administration. They are anti-nationals because they are carrying pictures of Rohith Vemula and shouting slogans like Kanhaiya Kumar.”
“Last year, they attended a programme of JNU professor Dr Sunil Kumar Suman. They are trying to project themselves a hero and us a villain, that too in the name of Dr BR Ambedkar. We organize a programme every year Baba Saheb’s birth anniversary but nobody stops us,” said Gupta.
Gupta also blames the vice chancellor Sangeeta Shukla saying she could have controlled the entire situation efficiently but she didn’t handle the whole issue properly.
“These students are spoiling the environment of the university by shouting anti-national slogans. During protest, they were carrying photo of Rohith Vemula. This is a sign that they wanted to mount undue pressure on the university. We wouldn’t allow such indiscipline in the university. The choice is clear for students either they pursue education or do politics. Both the things are not possible at the same time,” said Sangeeta Shukla, vice chancellor.
“The allegation that varsity administration is siding with a particularly group is baseless. The posters on RSS membership drive were pasted by someone without any permission. It didn’t mean that we are in favour of someone,” she said.
“In the appointment of professors politicians play an important role and in return it become compulsory for professors to support the ideology of one party. Same is happening in Jiwaji University, Gwalior. In the absence of qualified teachers, the students’ energy is not being channelized in a proper way. The political parties are taking advantage of the situation.”
-Prakash Singh Bishen, a retired vice chancellor of the University.