Why have our institutions become murders of Dalit Adivasi Muslim scholars?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat at deekshabhoomi
Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Why have
our institutions become murders of Dalit Adivasi Muslim scholars?

Why have
India’s elite institutions become murderers of Dalit Adivasi-Muslim scholars?

The suicide of bright young scholar Fathima Latheef at the IIT Madras is reflective of the brutal and atrocious caste order prevailing in these institutions which discriminate against Dalit, OBC, Adivasi and Muslim students. This suicide is an institutional murder where the masterminds and caste supremacists are well protected. The list is long in recent years as how bright young dynamic scholars particularly hailing from Dalit Adivasi Muslim background are being targeted not merely by the Savarna students but their faculties. It is difficulty for India’s racists savarnas to accept brilliant self-respecting bright scholars from other communities who don’t agree with them.

These institutions who I term as Gurukuls now where a Droancharya is ready to cut the fingers of students from marginalized sections, are today becoming the hunting ground for these students who aspire high though their social location might not be that strong. Rohith Vemula was murdered in Hyderabad Central University Campus, Dr Payal Tadvi faced very similar pressure in her medical college in Mumbai while nineteen years old Fathima became the latest victim of this murder series.

Fathima was
a topper in the entrance examination. She topped in her earlier too. Hailing
from Kollam district in Kerala, Fathima had big dreams when she got into
Integrated MA programme in Humanities and Social Sciences at the IIT Madras.
Her parents have accused Prof Sudarshan Padmanabhan for mentally torturing her.

Fathima’s
story is not alone.

The caste
forces have revolted with a vengeance everywhere. There are attack by targeting
institutions and individuals. Look at the JNU and how the government and all
others have joined hand to destroy these credible institutions. They are unable
to break the spirit of the University and yet through media and the paddlers of
lies, we are witnessing a campaign against provisions which ensure that
children of all the communities who are the margin can enter into a credible
and privileged institution. IITs and IIMs are actually much regressive in their
caste prejudices and that is why it is very difficult for girls like Fathima to
survive there.

Not long
ago, a Ph.D. award of a scientist who happened to belong to scheduled caste
community was held up by the Brahmanical faculty in IIT Kanpur, accusing the
scholar of plagiarism, when everybody knew the track record of the senior
scholar as brilliant. His father passed away hearing about the same that his
son might not get his hard-earned Ph.D. Finally, after much campaign by friends
the IIT K appointed a committee and ultimately charges against him were
dropped.

In the
universities like JNU, despite all differences, the students from the margins
can enjoy freedom to challenge the might but such freedom does not exist in any
other institution. In fact, the Brahmanical elite are now ensuring that other
institutions do not go JNU way. I don’t consider JNU revolutionary but given
today’s circumstances, it is a model that the government could have adopted
like Navodaya Vidyalaya and spread across the country to ensure that persons
from the marginalised sections participate in our nation building and
contribute.

How will
they contribute when all these institutions are being made beyond their
economic limit? The fees and other expenses at the IITs, IIMs and other medical
institutions are deliberately being made such so that the students who hail
from economically weaker background do not reach there. The social and cultural
environment in these institutions is as such that the students from
Dalit-Adivasi-OBC-Muslim community become mute and totally isolated. They
remain in atmospheric intimidation which I call criminal and oppressive
environment which reminds students of their ‘social background’.

Can the
Ministry of HRD respond as what happened to the probe into Rohith Vemula’s murder?
What happened in the Payal Tadvi case? What happened to Najeeb’s murder? And
what is the progress in the investigation of murder of Fathima Latheef. These
are institutional issues and need to be seriously addressed. If our
institutions are becoming killing fields of the scholars from Dalit
Adivasi-Muslim communities then it is time to have a serious look into their structure.
Are there teachers from these sections in these institutions? Are there enough
students from these sections? Are there enough staff from their communities? If
not then the students will always remain in ‘alien in wonderland’.

Sad part is
that there is no outcry. Political parties as usual remain silent as these are
not issues for them. More criminal is the silence of those who ‘represent’
Dalit Bahujan-minority communities. It is not the issue of making one
statement. It is time, they develop their vision for education particularly how
are they going to strengthen and encourage India’s huge Bahujan communities
into these institutions.

Fathima
Lateef’s killing is the story of discrimination against Muslims too who are now
increasingly feeling it at every level. Isolation, contempt and attempt to
define them further. We must speak up against such efforts. You blame
communities are being pampered. You blame them for not being ‘educated’ but
what happens when the students come at their own. Fathima was not wearing
‘Burqa’ so by all the ‘standards’ of the Brahmanical IITs, she was a modern
Muslim girl and yet she was forced to die.

The basic
question is why Fathima died or was killed or allowed to be killed? And the
answers are simple and one need to read into what is happening in our campuses
in the last six years. Institutionally, all of them are being restructured in
such a way so that the Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi-Muslim students remain outside
their domain or unable to make entry into them and if they are able to make an
entry inside the Brahmanical club, then it is ensured that they are isolated,
depressed and compel to commit suicide. So, these institutional murders will
continue if we are unable to democratise our institutions and that will only be
possible if they reflect diversity of India in these institutions and not
merely Brahmanical diversity but non Brahmanical diversity too. Representation
of India’s diverse religious and ethnic, caste groups are important for
democratisation of our institutions. Will it be possible? I don’t think those
who have enjoyed privileges and fruits of power for last so many years will
easily leave it. The only way is political battle and our continuous struggle
for social justice and human rights when political parties have failed to take
up the cause of people. That is the most worrisome part in India but there is a
reality and that is a revolution happens in the most frustrating situations and
I am seeing that in India, people are feeling it. Will those who are socially
excluded organised themselves not merely in the University campuses but also
politically and outside the urban domain, in our villages too. If they do it, I
can say, we will not have to see the sad and deeply painful lives of Fathima or
Rohith Vemula or Payal Tadvi, cut short by Brahmanical crookedness.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

November 16th, 2019

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