Students and youth from all over the country gathered at Delhi on 28 September to March from to Parliament Street, resolving to fight to achieve the India of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar’s dreams.
Bhagat Singh’s nephew – intellectual and activist Prof Jagmohan flagged off the March. Students and youth marched from Ambedkar Bhawan to Parliament Street, with colourful banners and placards, raising slogans of ‘Utho Mere Desh’ (Arise My Country) and ‘Naye Bharat Ke Vastey, Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Ke Raste’ (March for a New India in Bhagat Singh’s and Ambedkar’s Footsteps).
A Public Meeting was held at Parliament Street which was addressed by many noted activists and public figures. The Meeting began with revolutionary songs presented by Hirawal, Patna and Comrade Nirmohi. AISA National President Sucheta De greeted the gathering and the guests and conducted the meeting. She spoke about the spate of ‘sedition’ cases against students and victimization of Dalit students, arrests of students and young activists from Bastar to Gujarat to Kashmir, the ugly reality of caste-divided and gender-discriminatory hostels on Indian campuses, and the growing resistance of young people defying all attempts to silence and intimidate. She called for a robust resistance to the war-mongering by the ruling class and for the unity of youth and students across South Asia for against bigotry and jingoism. She said that the movement would struggle relentlessly for enacting a law against caste discrimination on campuses, in Rohith Vemula’s memory.
Prof Jagmohan spoke of Bhagat Singh’s legacy of resisting the colonial rulers and Indian oppressors alike. He said that the dreams of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar inspire today’s youth to struggle for social transformation and against imperialism.
Ram Puniyani, noted activist, spoke about how the RSS’ fascist project in India is intended to turn India into a Brahminical Hindu nation. He contrasted the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar with that of Savarkar’s betrayal of the freedom struggle and called for all people’s movements to join hands to defeat the fascist forces.
Senior journalist Anil Chamaria said that the oppressed and poor students are being asked to chop off their ‘thumb’ – give up their rights – just as happened with Ekalavya in the myth. It is to prevent this that the Rohith Act is a necessity.
Noted writer and Dalit women’s rights activist Anita Bharti spoke of the right wing offensive on the rights of Dalits, women and minorities and called for unity of the Left and Ambedkarite movements.
Urmila Chauhan, leader of sanitation worker’ union in JNU, spoke of workers’ struggles for their rights and dignity and their unity with the students’ movement.
Among the student and youth activists who spoke were Tripura University AISA activist Koushik Das, a Dalit student who was victimized for taking up struggles of contractual workers and justice for Rohith Vemula; Akash, one among the nine BHU students rusticated for demanding a 24/7 library and implementation of reservations, and resisting gender discrimination; JNUSU President Mohit, Joint Secretary Tabrez; former JNUSU GS Rama Naga; Shivani, the activist elected to the Students’ Union in Garhwal University; Manoj Manzil, RYA President of Bihar who was jailed for his activism on issues of land and education who participated in the Una March; RYA State President of UP Rakesh who participated in the Una March; and activists from Karbi Anglong, Maharashtra, Odisha, Hyderabad, and many other places.
Former RYA President, now All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh congratulated students for forcing Smriti Irani to quit as HRD Minister.
Addressing the students and youth, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said that the people’s movements and progressive traditions of the country will resist and defeat the threat of fascism in India. Bhagat Singh called to resist the brown rulers as well as colonial rulers and Ambedkar said that freedom could not be genuine without equality and fraternity. It isn’t possible to annihilate caste, he said, without fighting for inter-caste marriage and the fullest freedom of women, as well as the unity of peasants and workers. He said that youth all over India are speaking up against the military atrocities and repression in Kashmir and the North East. The Government is indulging in anti-Pakistan war-mongering and hate while it is unable to secure its own military bases in Pathankot and Uri. The fight for the Rohith Act and for campus democracy will definitely be achieved. Students and youth will never allow the Sangh to appropriate Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar.
RYA National General Secretary Om Prasad, AISA National General Secretary Sandeep Saurav, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AIARLA National President Rameshwar Prasad were also present on the dais.
Prolonged Bullying and Brutality Against Dalit Student in Muzaffarpur
A horrifying video went viral on social media, showing two schoolboys beating up a third boy brutally. The 16-year-old victim Uttam wrote about the attack: “I am a Dalit and so doing well in the examinations or academics, which brings me praise at home, earns me humiliation and abuse in my classroom. …for the last two years, I was beaten every day by two boys who are brothers – one in the same class as me, the other a year junior. At least once a week, they would spit on my face. My teacher, who I approached for help, was very sympathetic. But he said the boys’ father is a powerful criminal, so the school could not take action against them, and if I filed a complaint, I would be forced to drop out. … One of the boys used to tell me that assaulting me gave him pleasure, so he had it filmed by a student.
He was a backbencher, where you can cheat easily, and I used to sit in the front, but even so, he used to score poorly and I did well. So that enraged him. And when he found out I am from a Scheduled Caste, he went ballistic.”
A team of AISA-CPI (ML) and Insaaf Manch visited Uttam’s family in Muzaffarpur. Comrade Shivprakash Ranjan, Bihar AISA Secretary who was a part of the team reports:
“Uttam, a dalit student in class 12th was beaten up brutally by classmates from the dominant community. Uttam’s crime was scoring well in exams – something that a dalit student is not supposed to do, something that violated the code of Manu normalised in our caste ridden society and schools. Those who ‘punished’ Uttam for being better in studies come from socially influential families. And the school administration was allowing the prolonged bullying because they didn’t want to offend their parents.
“Uttam has been going through trauma and depression since the assault. His grandfather with whom Uttam lives says their security is at stake since the video of the assault has gone viral. He fears backlash from the dominant community after assault on Uttam has become public.
“No one from the local administration or the government had visited Uttam’s family days after the attack, and even the necessary medical care has not been given. So much for claims of social justice by Nitish-Lalu duo.”
AISA held state wide protests on 23rd and 24th October demanding Justice for Uttam, against the continuation and normalisation of caste based abuse in our educational institutions, against the Mahagathbandhan Government’s complicity with such casteist abuse and violence, and against the silence of the central government on Rohith Act.