The ‘Joint Action Committee for Social Justice’ is a group of Rohith Vemula’s friends and supporters in the University of Hyderabad. After Smriti Irani’s statement in the parliament, they have come up with this comprehensive response which deserves widest possible attention:
Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (UoH) condemns, in the strongest possible words, the flagrant manipulation of facts and blatant lies uttered by the Minister of HRD Smriti Irani in the Parliament. Through a performance filled with melodrama and sensationalism, Smriti Irani did not leave any stone unturned in vilifying and denigrating our struggle for #JusticeforRohith. We are shocked and deeply outraged by her fabricated statements about Rohith’s death. To quote Smriti Irani, “No one allowed a doctor near this child, to revive this child. Instead, his body was used as a political tool. No police was allowed till 6:30 am the following morning. Who tried to help this child?” This is a blatant lie. Smriti Irani must review her facts and have a look at the medical report and the video evidence that confirms the death of Rohith. Having received a call from a PhD research scholar of University of Hyderabad and Security personnel, Dr. M. Rajshree, the medical officer on-duty on 17th January rushed to the NRS Hostel in four minutes and certified Rohith’s death at 7.30 pm. The accusation stands baseless and false as reaffirmed by Dr. M. Rajshree. Besides, the Circle Inspector and Assistant Commissioner of Police along with other police personnel had immediate access to the Hostel room where Rohith hung himself. This is yet another desperate attempt of the BJP government to wash their hands off the crime they committed by executing the social boycott order on the five Dalit research scholars that eventually led to the institutional murder of Rohith.
To quote Smriti Irani, “The committee which suspended Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula was not constituted by our government, but by the UPA regime.” This is yet another utterly false statement. The Executive Council that socially boycotted five dalit research scholars was headed by the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof. Appa Rao Podile (appointed by BJP government. Following is the explanation for the same.
VIOLATION OF UNIVERSITY MECHANISMS AND INSTITUTIONAL PROCEDURES
The University administration fabricated the entire case and failed to follow the institutional procedures. The Proctorial Board chaired by the Chief Proctor Prof. Alok Pandey conducted an “inquiry into the incident occurred on 3rd & 4th August” (UH/CP/2015/320). To quote: “In this connection, the Proctorial Board thoroughly inquired all the involved students in the incident excluding Mr. Susheel Kumar, the Security staff and Dr. Anupama, Medical Officer.”
The findings of the inquiry conducted by Proctorial Board:
1. “The Board could not get any hard evidence of beating of Mr. Susheel Kumar either from Mr. Krishna Chaitanya or from the reports submitted by Dr. Anupama. Dr. Anupama’s reports also could not link or suggest the surgery of the Sushil Kumar is the direct result of the beating.”
2. “According to DSO, Mr. Dilip Singh, who was the first to reach to the spot, there was a big gathering of ASA cadres and discussing with Sushil Kumar. When asked about the beating, he told that he didn’t witness any beating of Mr. Susheel Kumar during his presence.”
3. “Mr. Susheel Kumar was not present for deposition nor he could submit any letter or medical report from his current hospital.
4. “Mr. Krishna Chaitanya could not present any hard evidence of Mr. Susheel Kumar’s beating in the support of his letter.
The Decision of the Proctorial Board inquiry was to issue a strong warning to both parties.
REJECT THE BLANTANT LIES! SACK THE MHRD MINISTER SMRITI IRANI!
ARREST THE MURDERERS OF ROHITH VEMULA
On 31th August, Chief Proctor Prof. Alok Pandey issued a NOTE stating R.P Sharma’s (the former Vice-Chancellor) order (with reference to UH/REG/2015/4854) “for obtaining the deposition of Mr. Susheel Kumar”. The second report states the following:
1. “Based on the Medical Officer report (explained by Dr. Anupama), main complainant Susheel Kumar’s deposition and pictures by him and the depositions of two eyewitness (names are kept confidential) of the incident, it was evidently clear that Mr. Susheel Kumar was abused, manhandled, beaten, forced to wrote apology letter by a group of more than 30 students, lead by Prashant. The main and most active students involved and named by the complainant and mostly confirmed by eyewitnesses, in abusing and hitting are Prashant, Rohit, Sheshu, Vijay and Sunkanna.”
Following this report, the decision of “Complete suspension from University” was issued by Registrar (UH/REG/2015/5789) on 8th September.
The first Proctorial Board report which include the depositions from the Security Officer and Doctor clearly stated that there was no instance of physical assault. Following the second report, the Chief Proctor ordered for expulsion. On what basis did Alok Pandey take such an arbitrary decision? In the first Proctorial Board report, Dr. Anupama had clearly stated “The Board could not get any hard evidence of beating of Mr. Susheel Kumar either from Mr. Krishna Chaitanya or from the reports submitted by Dr. Anupama. Dr. Anupama’s reports also could not link or suggest the surgery of the Sushil Kumar is the direct result of the beating.” Which statement of Dr. Anupama is being referred to, in the second Proctorial Board report? Are there two contradicting reports issued by Dr. Anupama?
The enraged students of University of Hyderabad protested against this arbitrary move and demanded for revocation of expulsion. Prof. R. P Sharma, the in-charge Vice-Chancellor then, revoked the suspension and constituted a new committee to enquire into the incident afresh. At this juncture, Appa Rao Podile was appointed as the Vice Chancellor by the BJP-led government. We want to bring to your notice the events that unfolded after the appointment of Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad.
1.On September 23rd, Prof. Y.A. Sudhakar Reddy, Chairperson of the new Inquiry committee (constituted by R.P Sharma) wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor appealing for scrapping the Inquiry committee. Why did Y.A Sudhakar Reddy ask for the same?
2.On 3rd October, the Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad filed a writ petition (WP. No. 28703 of 2015) in the Hon’ble High Court which states the following:
1. “I humbly state that the Medical Officer Dr. Chenna Reddy of Archana Hospital, Madinaguda, Hyderabad, who treated the injured issued a medical certificate on 12/08/15 stating that the injuries sustained by Susheel Kumar (the son of the petitioner) during the incident were “SIMPLE” in nature but during the course of treatment it was revealed that Susheel Kumar was suffering from Appendicitis and was operated for that. He also stated that during the examination, it came to know that Appendicitis is not due to the result or any assault and it is coincidental that existing ailment was diagnosed and treated when Susheel Kumar got admitted.”
2. “I humbly submit that the allegation of the petitioner that the respondent police was hand in glove with the attackers is baseless, false and denied. The allegation that the respondent police and the security establishment are part of the gang who are threatening everyone is also baseless, false and denied.”
3. The petitioner is not entitled to grant any relief. There are no merits whatsoever warranting the interference of this Hon’ble Court under Art.226 of the Constitution of India. The write petition is liable to be dismissed.
This writ petition filed by Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad was deliberately ignored and overlooked. Meanwhile, B. Pandu Reddy, the Finance Officer, filed a writ petition (W.P.No. 28073 of 2015) in which he deliberately gave a distorted and fabricated statement that the whole incident took place in the context of the hanging of Yakub Memon.
1. “It is respectfully submitted that the facts leading to the incident referred to in the writ petition have not been presented in their entirety. As per the facts revealed to us pursuant to the inquiry, the petitioner’s ward Mr. N.Susheel Kumar, PhD student in the Centre for ALTS posted certain objectionable message on his facebook page commenting on the protest undertaken by student members belonging to Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) pursuant to hanging of Mr. Yakub Memon.”
2. The matter of fact is that it was in the context of the protest movie screening of ‘Muzzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’ in protest against the disruption of the movie screening by ABVP in Delhi University. Why did Pandu Reddy sensationalize the case by linking it to Yakub Memon?
In a Counter Affidavit (W.P. No. 28073 of 2015) filed by Mr. Murgesh Kumar Singh, Inspector General of Police (Law & Order), O/o the DGP, Telangana State, Hyderabad on 31st October, he stated
1.“It is submitted that in the allegation of the petitioner that she came to know that her son dialled 100 and also informed SL of Police Gachibowli Mr. Naveen, then in presence of the two constables her son was beaten up & handed over to the attackers is not true. In fact, on receipt of information, the Sub-Inspector of Police Mr. Naveen informed to the night patrolling duty incharge Mr.S.Ramu (HC 1472) of Gachibowli Police Station. On the instructions of S.J. Naveen Kumar, the said HC 1472 along with two police constables immediately reached the spot and no such alleged incident occurred in their presence. Hence, the allegation of the petitioner is false, baseless and the same is denied.”
2.“For the reasons stated above, it is, therefore, prayed that this Hon’ble Court, may be pleased to dismiss the writ petition and to pass such other order or orders at this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances of the case.”
The series of letters that circulated from Nandanam Diwakar to Bandaru Dattatreya to Smriti Irani to Appa Rao Podile (Vice-Chancellor) and Ramachandra Rao meeting Appa Rao Podile to push for punishment on the five Dalit Research Scholars, and the inconsistencies, fabrications, and the arbitrary decision-making that prevailed in the entire process of inquiry, all of it was executed during the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile. On what grounds is Smriti Irani washing her hands off the murder of Rohith Vemula?
A rebuttal to the statement made by Smriti Irani that Political intervention was non-existent in the case:
There was outright political intervention from ABVP, BJYM and BJP. At first, the MLC Ramachandra Rao misused his position and threatened the University to take action against the Dalit research scholars. He warned the University administration that “outsiders” would teach them a lesson otherwise. Later, the Union Cabinet Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya wrote a letter to Smriti Irani accusing members of Ambedkar Students’ Association with atrocious, baseless and utterly false allegations. He further branded University of Hyderabad as a “den of casteists, extremists and anti-nationals”.
On 21st September 2015, Prof. Appa Rao Podile was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor by MHRD. At this juncture, Subodh Kumar Ghildiyal, Deputy Secretary, MHRD addressed a reminder to Registrar, University of Hyderabad on 24th September, 2015 and sought a report from the University administration on the incident dated 3rd and 4th August, 2015. He referred to Susheel’s name with subject titled “Antinational activities in Hyderabad Central University premises – Violent attack on Sri Nandanam Susheel Kumar, Ph.D. student and President of ABVP – reg.”
On 06th October, 2015, Subodh Kumar Ghildiyal sent another letter to Vice-Chancellor expressing non-receipt of facts/comments on earlier letter dated 24th September, 2015 and requested for expedition of the process.
On 20th Octoboer, 2015, Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, Joint Secretary (Central Universities and Language) sent a D.O. letter to Prof. Appa Rao Podile to look into the letter written by Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu appealed to the Vice-Chancellor to intervene in University matters in his personal capacity.
Additionally, on 19th November, 2015, Ramji Pandey, Under Secretary, MHRD addressed a letter to Vice-Chancellor wherein he referred to the D.O. letter of Sukhbir Singh Sandhu dated 20th October, 2015. Ramji Pandey requested the Vice-Chancellor to look into the matter in his “personal capacity” with subject titled “Antinational activities in Hyderabad Central University premises – Violent attack on Sri Nandanam Susheel Kumar, Ph.D. student and President of ABVP – reg.”
Following these communications received from the Ministry of HRD, Prof. Appa Rao Podile, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad took the matter in his own hands. In response to the communications received from Ministry of HRD, he took a decision on 27th November, 2015 in the 167th meeting of Executive Council (Prof. Podile Apparao is Ex-officio chairman of Executive Council). The 167th Executive Council held on 27th November 2015 did not include a single SC/ST representative on the board. The Executive Council took an arbitrary decision to not allow the following students and deceased Rohith Vemula to enter hostels. They were further restricted by barring their entry into common/public places in groups and administration building. Putting a complete ban on their participation in Students’ Union elections, the University administration threatened the research scholars of further punishment in case they failed to follow the orders.
i) . Mr. DonthaPrasanth (13SEPH14), Ph.D., Economics.
ii) . Mr. ChakravarthiRohitVemula (14SKPK01), Science, Technology and Society Studies.
iii). Mr. Pedapudi Vijay Kumar (13SPPH03), Ph.D., Political Science.
iv). Mr. SheshaiahChemudugunta (14SIPH04), Ph.D. Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy.
v). Mr. VelpulaSunkanna (former student of Ph.D. in the Department of Philosophy).
On 04th December, 2015, the above said decision was approved by Prof. Appa Rao Podile. The order of social boycott was therefore executed on 17th December, 2015 without conducting any fresh inquiry. At the cost of Dalit students’ lives, his deliberate commission of act in not conducting enquiry in order to support Nandanam Susheel Kumar (ABVP-UoH), Nandanam Diwakar (Vice-President, BJP, R.R. District), Bandaru Dattatreya (Union Minister, Labour and Employment, GOI), Smriti Irani (Minister, HRD), Officials of MHRD was also to attract personal gains. Prof. Appa Rao Podile, deliberately hid and manipulated facts of the case and wilfully made it sure that punishment is levelled against the five Dalit research scholars in a vicious manner.
On 17th December, 2015, adding to the insult and humiliation, ABVP pasted posters on University Campus with a caption “Fitting Verdict to Goondas”, in which they branded ASA as goons yet again, and the same was also shared by Nandanam Susheel Kumar, President, ABVP on Facebook.
On 18th December, 2015 at 02:35 PM, Rohith Vemula along with other four research scholars submitted a representation to Chief Proctor mentioning the provocative acts of ABVP, their attempts to instigate unrest and incite violence on campus. But, no action was taken on the ABVP President Susheel Kumar and other members of
ABVP. On the same day, Rohith Vemula wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor expressing his unease and displeasure at the commitment and personal interest shown by the Vice-Chancellor on the social boycott of the Dalit research scholars. In the letter, he further exposed the nexus between Prof. Podile Apparao and ABVP. He asked the Vice-Chancellor to provide all dalit students with 10 mg of sodium azide and a rope at the time of admission. This letter expresses the anger and disgust over the injustice meted out to the five dalit research scholars.
This explains what Smriti Irani meant when she stated in the parliament, “I am not going to apologise for doing my duty.” Yes, her duty was to impose Angavastra on students attending the Convocation in University of Hyderabad. Yes, her duty was to scrap fellowships and sell education to WTO. Yes, her duty was to send five letters to the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile to push for the order of social boycott on the witch-hunted five Dalit research scholars. Yes, her duty has been to hoist a 207 feet Indian flag to instil nationalism among the “anti-nationals”. Yes, her duty has been to saffronize and communalize academic spaces and execute the RSS agenda of scuttling dissenting voices that challenge their Brahmanical fascist regime. We are in shock looking at the statement made by the Prime Minister of India on twitter. His statement “Satyameva Jayate” for Smriti Irani’s dramatic and shameless outcry exposes yet again the larger conspiracy behind the witch-hunting of dalit students who challenged their Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist ideology.
The lies uttered by BJP ministers in the parliament today are in line with their anti-dalit and casteist attitude. Smriti Irani said that there was a SC representative in the body that socially boycotted the five Dalit research scholars. This is an absolute lie. The decision to socially boycott the students was taken in Executive Council which does not consist single SC/ST representative. Added to which she further stated that Chief Warden was co-opted into the committee, which is false. Chief Warden was never there as a part of any enquiry committee pertaining to the incidents on 03/04.08.2015. “It is also unfortunate that the Honourable Minister is misleading the nation by observing that Hostel Wardens have su-moto powers to expel the students. It is just a coincidence that the Chief Warden happens to be a Dalit and he only implemented the orders of the higher authorities”.
We want to ask her why are they not refering to the procedural falacies in the case? Why there is no reference to the letter written by Rohith on the 18th of December to the Vice chancellor Mr. P Apparao that clearly points out to the institutional discrimination and casteist humiliation that they made the dalit students face? Rohith in his letter asked the VC to provide a rope or sodium azide to dalit students if the university does not want them. Even after receiving the letter the VC did not meet him or any of the other four research scholars. He did not respond in any way to all the questions that were repeatedly raised by the affected students. Why is she not referring to the affidavits submitted in the Hon’ble High court by the Commissioner of Police C V Anand and Inspector General of Police Murgesh Kumar Singh on the 3rd and 31st October respectively and that there had been no incidence of physical violence towards Susheel Kumar? Yet on the 17th October based on the false incidence of physical violence on Susheel Kumar the VC and the Executive sub-committee orders the suspension and the social boycott as punishment against these five research scholars that finally led to Rohith’s death. Why is she not mentioning the two contradictory proctorial committee reports taken out by the chief proctor Prof. Alok Pandey, that were the basis of the inquiry by the EC. By putting the onus on the students the minister is trying to hide that fact that it was the political pressure from Bandaru Dattatreya and MLC Ramchandrarao that acted upon the actions taken by the university on Rohith and the four dalit research scholars. She is still denying her responsibility about being complicit in the political interference by her party on the university by sending several responses to Dattatreya. It is these ministers and the BJP whose political interference and the casteist attitude of the VC and other complicit administrators that led to the politicisation and death of Rohith.
People from all over the country had come to Delhi to demand for #JusticeforRohith on 23th Feb, 2016 for the CHALO DELHI call. On 24th Feb, there was a candle light vigil at India gate to pay tribute to Rohith. Rohith’s mother, brother were also present for the vigil. There we witnessed that the Delhi police started to threaten the students and finally with physical forcefully detained more than 150 students. They even tried to detain Rohith’s mother but several women students made a human chain around her and protected her from getting roughed up by the police and getting detained. However, Rohith’s mother was dragged and taken to Tilak Marg Police station. This insensitive government is least concerned about delivering justice to Rohith, his family and the other four socially boycotted students but instead keeps unleashing physical forms of repression of their voices by constantly employing police.
The government by using the police force upon the stuents time and again has given us clear message that they will not allow any space for any kind of democratic protest. The events that are happening in other campuses of the country are also facing the same repression from this govenment and their agenda of supressing any voice of dissent. By dubbing dissent as anti-nationalism, they are criminalising students everywhere. This sensationalisation of issues over nationalism and anti-nationalism is understood by us as a conspiracy to divert the attention of the people away from the issues in University of Hyderabad and the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula.
We want to reiterate our demands #JusticeforRohith and his family, we demand punishment of all the culprits of Rohith’s murder, we demand the sacking of the MHRD minister Smriti Irani and we demand a strong legislation in the form of Rohith act to prevent any such incidences in future and ensure a safe environment for pursuing education to people from marginalised sections.
1.Enact “Rohith Act” against the caste discrimination in education spaces.
2.Punish the culprits (Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatrya, Appa Rao, Ramchandra Rao, Alok Pandey and Susheel Kumar).
3.Remove Appa Rao from post of Vice chancellor
4.Employ a family member of Rohith in the university.
5.Pay a minimum compensation of 50 lakhs.
6.Drop the false police cases against the five research scholars.
7.Appoint a special public prosecutor in the concerned case of Rohith.
8.Constitute a judicial inquiry (non-MHRD members) into all cases of discrimination and harassment of Dalit, Adivasi, OBC, Religious Minority students in all higher educational institutions.
9.Implement Affirmative action policies in all higher education institutions, irrespective of the management of the colleges.
JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (UOH)