India: Justice for Rohit Vemula

Solidarity message from the Committee for a Workers’ International

It has been twenty six days since the students of University of Hyderabad in India, have been fighting against the practice of Caste discrimination and Untouchability in the campus including the eleven days of total shut-down and strike at the University following the death of the Dalit student scholar, activist Rohit Vemula. This institutional murder has led to a wave of solidarity actions all across the country of India in an unprecedented manner.

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) at its 11th World Congress and its India affiliate New Socialist Alternative, extend their active Solidarity to the brave students who have taken on and are fighting the deep rooted and embedded discrimination in general and the caste-ridden administration that expelled 5 Dalit students in particular.

The centuries long scourge of social exclusion goes unabated in every walk of social, economic and political life even to this day in the 21st Century. Dalit youth, both men and women who constitute the most disadvantaged and oppressed of Indian society have begun the fight back by questioning and challenging the capitalist and casteist establishment which is mired in feudal social practices.

The continued extreme injustice meted out to Dalits and the other oppressed who are overwhelmingly the working class and landless peasant population of India is now further exacerbated under the extreme right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party regime led by Narendra Modi.

Rohit Vemula, the student scholar, an activist from the ranks of Ambedkar Students Association, an extremely bright mind was subjected to a series of Caste atrocities in the campus of Hyderabad University which resulted in the forced “suicide”. It has become amply clear now that Rohit, who considered himself as a Dalit Marxist took this extreme step as an act of protest to ignite a Mashaal (Torch) of awakening among vast numbers of brothers and sisters of the oppressed.

This extreme and unfortunate step of Rohit Vemula has indeed lit the torch of solidarity across the country and the Movement for Justice for Rohit Vemula has spread India-wide, and the disease of caste and untouchability within education is being challenged in an unprecedented way. This important struggle also shows the anger of students and youth against the Hindutva , right-wing education policy of Modi revising syllabi and text books across the country and appointing puppets which is rightly derided as Saffornisation of Education.

Towards the end of last year, Occupy UGC (University Grants Commission) struggle was against the decision to stop paying fellowships to students pursuing higher education. Education, especially the higher education is increasingly becoming a private sector initiative that eludes the vast majority of the Working People, particularly the Dalits and the downtrodden who are discriminated on the basis community and caste, even in lower and secondary education.

This ongoing protest movement sparked by the Institutional Murder of Rohit, has all the flavour of starting the process of Challenging not just the present Hindutva right-wing regime, but the very deep rooted and hidden Caste System itself. We the CWI and the New Socialist Alternative wish them strength and extend our fullest solidarity.

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January 2016