It has been a year since the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the offensive against Jawaharlal Nehru University, both sponsored by the Modi Government in collusion with ABVP and the respective administrations of HCU and JNU.
In the year that has passed, the offensive on university campuses has only intensified. A research student Najeeb Ahmad disappeared from the JNU campus after being publicly thrashed by members of the ABVP. JNU faculty members have faced threats of action for speaking in solidarity with students. A series of student activists have faced various kinds of disciplinary action for expressing peaceful dissent against the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar, even as ABVP members who beat up Najeeb have been shielded.
In the latest move the JNU Vice Chancellor has declared the virtual indefinite closure of annual admissions to MPhil/PhD programmes in JNU, on the pretext that the student-supervisor ratio in these programmes exceeds the ideal ratio suggested in a UGC notification. Even as JNU wins the Visitor’s Award for the country’s best Central University, the JNU Vice Chancellor acting on behalf of his bosses in the Modi Government and Sangh Parivar, is out to destroy the research programmes and inclusive admission policy which are the basis of JNU’s track record of excellence.
Meanwhile, even as those responsible for the institutional killing of Rohith go scot free, the Guntur Collector has declared that Rohith was not a Dalit and demanded that his mother submit proof of her Dalit identity. This is a cruel joke in more ways than one. Radhika Vemula’s adoptive mother had, before her death, already given public testimonies that Radhika was from the SC community, and had been adopted and then married into the OBC community, only to be deserted by her husband when he came to know of her Dalit birth. The Guntur Collector, by accusing Radhika Vemula and her dead son Rohith of faking their Dalit identity, is dancing to the victim-blaming tune of the Sangh Parivar.
The powerful movements that arose all over the country demanding justice for Rohith and in solidarity with JNU continue to inspire hope. The renewed attacks on these movements are only a confirmation of how their existence and vigour threaten the Modi Government. The CPI(ML) stands in solidarity with these movements.