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Caste discrimination in educational institutions


Cases from educational institutions are presented here as the situation of dalit students in educational institutions and universities is becoming more vulnerable. The educational institutions are expected to inculcate caste free values to their pupil. However this is a clear demonstration of how educational institutions have failed in their primary duty of grooming generations of pupil on the values that are enshrined in the constitution of India and the values that all the national leaders have cherished.

Official records are revealing that in a span of two years (2008 and 2009) three dalit students have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh. They have also recorded one attempt suicide. . But there could be several more such cases which were either not reported or the reasons were distracted. In the recent past number of Dalit student's suicides cases as a whole in the country in educational institutions is increasing alarmingly. The situation needs urgent attention from not only the administration of those institutions but also all government departments, educationists and intellectuals.

We like to bring to your kind notice some of such cases of suicides of dalit students. These incidents will reflect (or stand as examples) the negligence of not only authorities of those institution but also the negligence of police and education departments in taking preventive actions.

1) Bandi Anusha Dalit student, studying B.Com final year in Villa Mary College, committed suicide on 5th November by jumping from the 3rd floor of her college building. The college management/ administration removed all the blood stains from the spot and then called electronic media and reported that the girl was forced into the act as there was a scuffle with her mother on the same day. And the same version was telecasted in the news channels and published in the news papers. Incidentally, the authorities forgot to inform the police and parents before they could call the media persons.

But according to the parents and relatives, Anusha was facing harassment and caste discrimination in the college from her classmates and they made to sit her on the front bench alone from the time they came to know her scheduled caste status, and that has forced her to commit the act.

On 4th November, 2009, Anusha informed her father about the harassment by her classmates in the college. Also she told that she don't want to continue her study in the same college as her classmates are teasing her because of her scheduled castes status. Her father seemed to have assured that he will come soon to the college to solve the problem by speaking with her classmate friends and requested Anusha to continue her studies in the same college, as in another three months she will finishing Degree Course (B. Com)

But on the next day, 5th November, 2009 Anusha faced same kind of harassment by her classmates and was unable to bare this. Apparently, she told everyone in the class that she is going to die by jumping from the building, but none of the classmates stopped her. She came out of the classroom and she again called her father and informed him that she is going to die, and also she sent a sms to her father's mobile "Bye dad im gng to die". Her father immediately informed his brother Rajendra and he called Anusha on her mobile and tried to convince her. But while talking over phone itself she jumped from the 3rd floor of the building. A case was registered in the Panjagutta police station as Crime number 1137/2009 under section 306 of IPC R/W 34 IPC but no accused was arrested yet.

A team constituted by the campaign for the elimination of caste discrimination in education institutions have visited villa Mary collage to know the details of the incident of suicide of .Anusha, but college management was not ready to reveal any information or reasons for the suicide and they have also instructed all the staff not to speak to visitors to the college regarding the suicide this was revealed by one of the ayah openly to the enquiry team, without revealing her own identity.

2) Amaravathi a national-level dalit woman boxer from Hyderabad committed suicide by consuming poison in her hostel room at the Centre of Excellence, a sports hostel of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, at Lal Bahadur Stadium on 4th November 2009, The 21-year-old boxer won the bronze medal at the boxing nationals in 2006-07

The victim's shocked family members alleged that "undue pressure mounted on her by the coach and the coach blamed her status of Scheduled caste and threatened her to perform better or die". "She used to tell her family that Omkar Yadav (the coach) was frequently scolding her to achieve results. He used to ask her to quit the hostel saying she was just enjoying free amenities in the hostel," they said. That is the whole reason for the suicide of Amaravathi

The members of the campaign for the elimination of caste discrimination in education institutions have visited the residence of Amaravathi in Chinthalbasti – Hyderabad and interacted with her parents they says that she is the bread winner of them now they become orphans

A case was registered but there is no progress of investigation and the coach Omkar Yadav was t neither arrested nor even questioned by the police.

3) Mr. Senthil Kumar, S/o Palaniswamy and Devani age 28, a research scholar in Physics in the University of Hyderabad committed suicide on 23-2-08 in his hostel room no.205 in the University's new Research Scholar's Hostel. This young hopeful scholar was a scheduled caste person from the village of Jalagandapuram in Selam district of Thamilanadu State. He completed his M. Phil. In Pondicherry Central University and thereafter he got admission into School of Physics as a PhD student during the academic year 2007-2008. He had never been allotted a guide to pursue his research programme until he committed suicide. He has to suffer lot of frustration and humiliation requesting the faculty members to accept him as a PhD student. Poor Senthil was the first generation in his family to get education. He came to this position with a lot of hardship. But he is a tragic victim of caste discrimination.

Our committee while interacting it is said that there exists a lot of discrimination among the faculty members in allotting the guides to the dalit scholars. There are many Scholars who do not have allotted any guide to them even after they got admission into the PhD Programme. The dalit students claim that they are the victims of the recently introduced semester system for the PhD Scholars. By this system the faculty can award less marks in the semester end examinations and thereby he would be retained in the same position again. Those persons who fail the examinations will not get scholarship. If the scholar ships are stopped the students, especially the dalit students who depends upon the scholarships for their studies, the consequences will force them to leave the studies. The same thing happened in the matter of Senthil Kumar as well. He failed in the recently held semester examinations and thereby he was struck with fear of stopping the scholarship and also non –allotment of guide doubled his agony.

On the day before he committing suicide he had spent time with his friends Arun Babu, and Armuga Nathan. They were together till late night and Senthil Kumar went to his room. The next day he was not seen by his friends. When they went to his room only the victim was lying on the floor, necked and with blood stains on the floor, immediately he was shifted to the campus where he was declared brought dead. Then the dead body of the victim was sent to Gandhi Hospital for the post mortem. Later the dead body was handed over to the parents of the deceased, who were called to Hyderabad. In a very causal manner the police of Chanda Nagar filed a case, till now the reasons for the suicide were not ascertained.

4) Balaswamy a PhD student (Department of Telugu) of University of Hyderabad belongs to Backward Class (Kuruma - shepherd community) of Chinthulla village of Yacharam Mandal, Rangareddy district, committed suicide at home (In the agricultural fields) due to caste based comment made by his professor (will you put this PhD degree in the neck of your Sheep, why do you want to do PhD) and denial of Scholarship in 2009 due to non promotion to the next semester. Since it happened at home of the diseased no case was registered and no enquiry was commissioned.

5) Rajitha, German studies student in EFL University attempted to suicide in the seethaphalmandi railway station, as Prof, Meenakshi Reddy, the dean of the German studies in EFL University has not permitted any Dalit student to sit in the class, However she has permitted some OBC students though they have failed in some semester exams. The SC ST students repeatedly requested her to allow sitting in the class and approached vice chancellor also, but she told that she will not permit even if the home minister of India intervenes in the matter. She even threatened to resign from job but don't want to permit dalit students to sit in the class. Due to this humiliation Rajitha attempted suicide but saved by the other students. Though all this was in public no action was initiated against Prof. Meenakshi Reddy by the university.

These are few examples of the type of incidents taking place in the educational institutions. It is a clearly evident that some of the faculty including and professors, other administration staff and fellow students are not able to accept the dalit students in higher education and educational institutions. Hence the dalit students have been humiliated so much and some of them are even resorting to suicides.

Several of such cases are reported in the country. This is a very unfortunate situation; it's a shame on the constitution of India and violation of basic human rights to fellow students. Hence we request you to intervene at once and take preventive measures and restore respect to the constitution of our country and ensure rightful human dignity to the Dalit students thereby they can pursue their education he the discrimination on the dalit students in the universities and other educational institutions

We the undersigned campaigners against the caste discrimination in educational institutions praying you to intervene in the matter and protect the right to life, right education and human dignity of dalit students

We request the below mentioned actions may be initiated immediately:
1) Establish a grievance cell for SC/ST students in All Universities and Collages of both private and Government with SC ST Faculty members to protect the SC/ST students from above mentioned discriminations insist
2) All private educations institutions to give an assurance to the government saying that they will not practice any caste discrimination against dalit students in their college
3) Conduct judicial enquiry into the deaths of all the dalit students who have committed suicides in all the above mentioned cases and initiate legal proceedings against the guilty as per the provisions of the SC/ST (prevention of) atrocities Act 1989 and rules 1995 pay compensation to the families of all victim's
4) The education ministry and Social welfare ministry should regularly monitor the situation of dalit students in the universities and collages

Specific Actions against institutions:

1) University of Hyderabad: Allot guides to all selected students within a particular period of time since their admission in to courses. If any faculty member denies guiding a SC/ST student and giving admission to a non-dalit student who is less meritorious shall be punished under the provisions of the SC/ST (prevention) of atrocities Act 1989 and rules 1995, withdraw the system of nonpayment of scholarships to the SC/ST students if they fail in the Semester examinations. As this rule is being miss-used (by several faculty members) to eliminate SC/ST students from the courses that they are pursuing.

2) English and Foreign Languages University:
Prof. Meenakshi Reddy shall be suspended immediately and a judicial enquiry shall be commissioned to dismiss her from duties for not allowing the SC/ST students to sit in her class The vice chancellor of EFLU shall be booked under section 4 of the SC/ST (prevention) of atrocities of Act 1989 and rules 1995 for not taking action against Prof. Meenakshi for openly discriminating SC/ST students

3) Villa Mary College: Punish the principal of Villa Mary College for calling the media persons before informing the parents about their daughter's suicide and for giving falls reasons to the media about the incident. Punish the management of Villa Mary College for threatening the non teaching staff (who are the eye witness to the incident) if they reveal any information regarding the incident to others.

4) Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh: Take action against the director of Sports Authority of AP for not initiating any enquiry in to the suicide of the Bronze medal winner in boxing Ms. Amaravathi Arrest Mr. Omkar Yadav (the coach of Ms. Amaravathi), under the provisions of SC/ST (prevention) of atrocities Act 1989 and rules 1995 and other relevant sections of the PCR.

Thanking you

Yours Faithfully
B.Karthik Navayan