Rohith Vemula wasn’t a Dalit, allegations baseless says Sushma Swaraj – The news minut
Maharashtra policy to grant Dalit, tribal bizmen incentives on the anvil – Nyoooz
Born Dalit: Meet Radhika Vemula, Rohith’s mother – Scroll. in
Dalit’s death: Left students protest – The statesman
Dalit Panel for Clash-prone Tag on Village – The news Indian express
Madhya Pradesh: Dalit boy dies as babus sits on free surgery file for five years – Nyoooz
The news minut
Rohith Vemula wasn’t a Dalit, allegations baseless says Sushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday that Rohith Vemula, the research scholar from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) who committed suicide, was not a Dalit.
“According to my complete knowledge, that student [Rohith] was not a Dalit,” she told ANI before adding that all the allegations that were being traded so far, were “completely baseless.”
She made the statement even as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi participated in a candlelight vigil at the university campus late on Friday night followed by a one-day fast on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the BJP slammed Rahul Gandhi’s second visit to the campus, charging him and the Congress with politicising the issue and dubbing the visit as “classic politics of vulturisation”.
“Rahul Gandhi and Congress are so politically bankrupt and unemployed that he has to politicise tragic death of a student repeatedly. His desperate attempt to earn some petty political expediency, has brought him back to HCU campus. This is classic politics of vulturisation,” Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao said.
The Congress has been demanding the sacking of HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and also removal of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao in the wake of the suicide by the research scholar.
Maharashtra policy to grant Dalit, tribal bizmen incentives on the anvil
Summary: Some other incentives which have been lined up under the policy, include training, marketing and skill development, grant of capital subsidies, and a push for start-ups launched by Dalit and tribal businessmen. To promote entrepreneurship and social and economic mobility among scheduled castes and tribals, the state government is working on a policy to grant incentives to businessmen from these weaker sections of the society. Some other initiatives likely to be launched during the programme include the state’s single-window system for industries, the retail policy and the proposed electronics policy. The policy is likely to be unveiled during the ‘Make in India’ week in Mumbai from February 13 to 18, where the government will showcase Maharashtra as an attractive investment destination for the manufacturing sector. He said that this policy, along with the Centre’s Stand Up India scheme, which aims at creating a culture of entrepreneurship among scheduled castes, tribals and women, and the Start Up India campaign, would grant much needed policy support in this direction.
The policy for SC and ST entrepreneurs, which is likely to be placed before the state cabinet soon, will use a combination of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to promote entrepreneurship within these communities. To promote entrepreneurship and social and economic mobility among scheduled castes and tribals, the state government is working on a policy to grant incentives to businessmen from these weaker sections of the society. The policy is likely to be unveiled during the ‘Make in India’ week in Mumbai from February 13 to 18, where the government will showcase Maharashtra as an attractive investment destination for the manufacturing sector. Some other initiatives likely to be launched during the programme include the state’s single-window system for industries, the retail policy and the proposed electronics policy. The policy for SC and ST entrepreneurs, which is likely to be placed before the state cabinet soon, will use a combination of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to promote entrepreneurship within these communities. “The policy will reserve 10% land in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas for MSME units and even larger units run by SCs and STs,” a senior state industries department official told dna, adding that they were planning a venture capital fund (VCF) with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) directed only at Dalit and tribal businessmen. This VCF will be on the lines of a similar Rs200 crore fund created by the state government and the bank to provide easy credit access to micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, he noted. Some other incentives which have been lined up under the policy, include training, marketing and skill development, grant of capital subsidies, and a push for start-ups launched by Dalit and tribal businessmen. “This will enable a jump (for Dalits and tribals) from being jobseekers to job-givers,” noted Milind Kamble, chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, adding that since the government could not provide jobs to all, it was necessary to create opportunities to reap the benefits of a globalised economy. He said that this policy, along with the Centre’s Stand Up India scheme, which aims at creating a culture of entrepreneurship among scheduled castes, tribals and women, and the Start Up India campaign, would grant much needed policy support in this direction. “We have demanded a financial support mechanism and market from the government,” said Kamble, adding that since the government itself was a huge market, these businessmen needed to benefit from preferential purchases by the state and central governments without any compromise on quality. He stressed on the need to create incubation and entrepreneurship development centres and preferential allotment of land, fiscal incentives, infrastructural support and provision of margin money to develop a culture of entrepreneurship in scheduled castes and tribals..
Born Dalit: Meet Radhika Vemula, Rohith’s mother
A makeshift tent in the University of Hyderabad has become the central point of protests after Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. This tent had earlier been home to Rohith along with four other Dalit students since early January. It is here that they began a “relay hunger protest” against their suspension from the university and expulsion from their hostels.
Rohith’s monthly fellowship had been stopped by the university from July 2015, but the disciplinary inquiry against him and his four colleagues from Ambedkar Students Association was set up only on August 5, 2015. The five were suspended from the university in September 2015, but the decision was upheld only on December 17. Which is why, technically, they were expelled from their hostels only on December 18 when, because of winter vacation, they happened to be outside. They came back to the campus on January 2, only to find their rooms locked. The suspension was confirmed on January 3
That is when Rohith came up with the idea of a tent as a Velivada – the Telugu word for the section of a village where Dalits are forced to live. The tent was quickly put up by sticking flex-boards together on the night of January 4. The five moved in here, first parking themselves on bunches of posters, and then mattresses, for their relay hunger strike, converting this tent into the symbolic Dalit quarters in the university campus.
Velivada, or Dalit quarters, is where Rohith’s mother, Radhika Vemula, now sits, surrounded by students, patiently answering for the nth time the same questions that she has been asked repeatedly since her son’s suicide about his tragic end, her own childhood and marriage, her struggles – and, of course, her own Dalit identity.
She is here everyday with her eldest-born, accompanied by her daughter Nileema. She shifted to Hyderabad only in December 2015, and has been living with her younger son, Raja. Always dressed in a sari, always carrying a grey shawl – it gets cold in the early mornings when she arrives, and towards the evening when she leaves. She speaks to everyone who visits, but doesn’t seem to address anyone in particular. If someone asks a question, she would look at her daughter or the floor and then answer it. Silent in her suffering, stoically responding to all those who visit the tent, her face betraying no emotion even when talking about the various indignities and abuse she has suffered. It’s only when speaking about Rohith that she breaks down.
A bunch of activists have dropped by with a lawyer. They declare that they are filing a private complaint against the university in court. “You do have an SC [Scheduled Caste] certificate, don’t you?” one of them asks.
Radhika offers a curt nod as reply to them, and continues speaking to people around her. “Babu, did you guys eat something or not?” she asks the students who have stationed themselves in Velivada.
“Amma, it’s you who hasn’t eaten yet. Have fruits at least,” a student requests.
There’s a brief silence and after assuring the students that she would take a break soon, she goes back to talking about the past.
“When Raja was studying for his BSc at Hindu Degree College in Guntur in 2008, Ganji (Rice porridge) was what we had on most of the days. Those were the times when we had to skip one meal to keep the house running,” she recalls.
Sujatha, a family friend and Raja’s junior in college, is sitting around. “Raja anna used to excuse himself during lunch, but not go home,” she says. “It was after a year that we learnt there wasn’t enough money to eat three meals a day.”
The family of four – Radhika, Nileema, Rohith and Raja – depended mainly on her earnings. From domestic work in the nearby residential areas to taking up work as construction labourer, Radhika took up any available job to feed and educate her children. She also tried to run a small paan-cum-juice shop near their house in Guntur.
The unsustainable nature of her income prompted her to learn tailoring and buy a sewing machine. The trouble was that there was hardly any requirement for tailors in the locality the family lived.
Nileema, Radhila’s daughter, interjects. “Almost everyone from the locality is a daily wage labourer or domestic help,” she says. “The roof of most of the houses is made up of asbestos sheets. Who needs a tailor when two square meals are a dream?”
But Radhika did not give up. She started working for tailoring agents, which helped stabilise her income to a large extent. “From 10am to 6pm, I would work in the tailoring shops in town and I earned Rs 100-150 per day,” she says.
Once Rohith and Raja grew up a little, they started taking up daily-wage work during their holidays to add to the income. During the summer vacation, they worked as salespersons at a bangle store in the flea market in Guntur exhibition grounds for Rs 50 a day.
“While awaiting results of his 10th board exams, Rohith was working at a construction site. One such day, he saw a school friend driving by the work site on a scooter. It was probably the first time Rohith broke down and cried inconsolably. But he did go back to work the next day,” Radhika recalled.
It is during his graduation, Sujatha said, that Rohith first encountered his Dalit identity – and discrimination. Same was the experience of Raja and other Dalit students in their respective colleges. It is not as if they had gone to all-Dalit schools, but because schools were in near-by localities, children happened to be from similar backgrounds. But the caste became a reality to contend with by college. Raja’s tuition teacher wouldn’t touch the glass in which Raja had water, Sujatha said. The teacher would move it with a pen.
“Everyone had a tryst with some sort of discrimination. Upper-castes students would even pass comments like: ‘That Mala [a scheduled caste] girl will come to you for less than Rs. 50’,” Sujatha said. “The upper-caste students were never asked to sweep the floor of classroom or hostel, it was our job. The upper-castes were never asked to leave footwear outside class, we were.”
Rohith was a bright student and, after his graduation, in 2010, he secured a seat in MSc in University of Hyderabad after clearing the entrance meritoriously (sixth rank). In due course Raja left for Pondicherry University, after having joined Andhra University (11th rank in the entrance exams) – the family fell short by a few thousand rupees for the transfer certificate which was raised by Raja’s friends and some teachers.
“My sons have always been hardworking and bright students. Even when they went on a daily-wage work, they would come back and read. They never fussed much about owning books – a library card or a borrowed book was enough to learn. They got into such big institutions with meritorious marks and that kept us all going,” Radhika says.
They were not the only ones who were bright. When Rohith and Raja were in third and first year of their undergraduate courses respectively, Radhika decided to pursue a BA (distance) degree from Sri Venkateshwara University.
Radhika and her husband Vemula Mani Kumar were separated in 1990, when she was a young woman in her early 20s. The fights and abuse became worse after after Mani discovered his wife was actually an adopted child, belonging to Mala – a scheduled caste – community by birth and was not a Vaddera as him – classified as Other Backward Classes, or OBC – as he had thought her to be.
“The Vaddera parents with whom my Mala parents left me when I was five married me off to a Vaddera groom. After I had three kids with him, we separated and eventually got divorced,” she said.
Radhika doesn’t want to speak much about her Vaddera family and said she deliberately chose not to stay on with them after her separation. Or even about her growing up years and why she was married off at the age of 14.
Even though she was brought up by them till the age of 14, Radhika said she didn’t identify herself as Vaddera and refused to elaborate on how she and her children were treated there, after her marriage broke down. “I decided to move to an SC locality as I am an SC and I wanted my kids to be brought up there,” she said. “It’s as simple as that.”
But it clearly was not as simple as that, as a detailed report by Sudipto Mondol in theHindustan Times, the same day that this reporter met her, made clear. Mondol quotes Sheikh Riyaz, Rohith’s best friend and BSc classmate in Guntur, to fill in the gaps.
Radhika’s eldest, daughter Nileema, too didn’t want to discuss her maternal grandmother Anjani. When prodded about how it was after her mother’s separation from her father, she would only say that she did not have many memories. “Father neither supported in kind nor in cash ever. To an extent, during schooling and initial college days, my [adopted] maternal grandmother helped us financially.”
But clearly the financial help came at a price. What neither Rohini nor Nileema would talk about is explained by Riyaz to Mondol:
In Radhika’s absence, Riaz told Mondol, her children would have to take over the housework. This practice of summoning Rohith’s family for housework, Mondol says, quoting Riaz, continued even after they moved into an independent one-room house a kilometre away.
Mondol also quotes Uppalapaty Danamma, 67, one of the oldest residents of the neighbourhood, a Dalit leader and former municipal councillor, who has seen Radhika since she was a little girl. Danamma told Mondol that Radhika was around 12 or 13 when she discovered to her shock that she was an adopted child and a Mala.
Prakash Nagar, the street in Guntur where Radhika and her children rented a one-room house for over two decades from 1990, had a ghetto of around 40 Dalit families. The Prakash Nagar area is subdivided into three blocks, one block was meant for Dalits, one was where the Vaddera caste people stayed and the third block was a red-light area.
Most of the people in the Prakash Nagar were daily-wage labourers and their similar financial background helped in bonding, Nileema recalled
“It was the people in the locality who stood by our mother several times when he (father) came down and harassed her. Had we lived anywhere else, mother would have died by now,” she added.
After spending over two decades in Prakash Nagar, the Vemula family shifted to a two-room house in Savitribai Nagar of Nallapadu area, a couple of years ago.
The Dalit families here shared water from common bore-wells. What they also shared was Radhika’s refrigerator, television and caste identity.
By now, the sons were earning. Raja had got a Project Fellowship at National Geophysical Research Institute at Hyderabad in September 2013 and Rohith was at University of Hyderabad. In April 2014, Rohith qualified for a Junior Research Fellowship of Rs 25,000 per month (excluding house rent allowance) from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and started helping the family financially.
Sujatha, who has become a part of the family, said the family now had money to spare. “In the last two years, if I needed money to buy books or someone needed money to go to a doctor or such needs, Amma (Radhika) would help us out and won’t ask back,” she said. “Even if I need any advice, I can always drop by at her place and discuss without being judged.”
But then Rohith’s fellowship was stopped. But even then, relatives, neighbours and almost everyone who knew Radhika were happy for her when she shifted to Hyderabad. “For once, we thought amma would be able to sit back and relax,” Nileema breaks down.
It’s 4pm. Radhika finally decides to go and have lunch. An hour later, she comes back and says that she felt slight chest pain again. In the last one week, Radhika has had several bouts of high blood pressure and chest pain, but doesn’t want to move away from her vigil at Velivada – everyday, from at least 9am to 6pm.
Despite the pain, she decided to walk her way to the university hospital along with her daughter. The university hospital is a few hundred metres from the Velivada and Radhika Vemula could easily get any one of the dozen or so students, who surround her most of the time, to drop her on their vehicles.
But she would rather walk. “Babu, you continue protests here. I will go,” she says, addressing the students, but looking away.
Dalit’s death: Left students protest
Left students, who held a protest march outside the RSS headquarters here over the issue of the alleged suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, raised slogans on “avenging the bloodshed of Gujarat”.
A handful of protestors from left student wings marched from Ambedkar Bhavan to the RSS headquarters at Jhandewalan.
“I didn’t hear any such slogan to avenge bloodshed of Gujarat, but there were slogans raised to book the communal forces in Gujarat. We meant to oppose the communalism spread by BJP and RSS,” said Aman Nawaz, AISA president of Delhi University.
Left students have come together to demand justice for Rohith and the resignation of Union HRD minister Smiriti Irani.
The Congress-affiliated student wing, NSUI, has also joined the Left bandwagon.
The protesters tried to forcefully break open the barricade. The police resorted to lathi-charge injuring many, AISA claimed.
JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar led the protest. He was weak on the 3rd day of his indefinite hunger strike but still high on spirits.
“There is a nexus between the BJP, RSS and its student wing ABVP, they are all hand in glove with each other. But the democratically formed government is not only answerable but also responsible for Rohith’s suicide. We are not going to stop unless and until justice is done in the true sense,” said Kanhaiya Kumar of All India Students Federation (AISF).
“Come what may, our struggle will continue till HCU VC, Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatraya resign. The government is fearful of the students agitation and is leaving no stone unturned to nip our dissent. But we will continue our struggle which is not confined only to ‘Rohith Vemula’ but all Dalit students who are being deprived of their rights and are suppressed by orthodox and casteist section,” said Shehla Rashid Shora, vice president of JNUSU.
“30th January is the birth anniversary of Rohith Vemula and Martyrdom day of Gandhiji, both were victims of witch hunt by RSS. Gandhi was killed by RSS man Godse and Rohith and his friends were victimised by BJP ministers for challenging RSS politics,” said Madhurima Kundu of AISA.
NSUI also held a small protest at the Arts Faculty gates in DU, alleging that that the same ideology killed both Gandhi and Rohith Vemula and demanded immediate justice. Reacting to “the slogans” raised, ABVP hit back at the Left student wings.
“It’s now clear who is spreading communalism. Its demeaning and completely unacceptable on part of any student organisation to raise such slogans which could prove to be a setback to communal harmony,” said Saket Bahuguna, Delhi state secretary of ABVP.
The news Indian express
Dalit Panel for Clash-prone Tag on Village
MADURAI: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has recommended that Kuruvithurai, a village in Madurai district that suffered a caste clash about two weeks ago, be declared “atrocity-prone”.
On January 17, a few caste Hindus entered into a wordy duel with some Dalit youth in the village over playing songs on loud speakers as they were celebrating Pongal after which the latter detained the former in a community hall before handing them over to the police. The information about the detention reached the other caste Hindus in the neighbourhood who allegedly ransacked the Dalit households and attacked them. The incident left nine persons injured and 30 houses damaged in the village which has 600 caste Hindu and 150 Dalit families.
The NCSC, based on the field inquiry by Assistant Director P Ramasamy and investigator S Lister on January 23, has in its recommendation said that the village may be declared as atrocity-prone so as to have a special monitoring by the law enforcing agency to avert such occurrences in future.
According to the recommendation report sent to the State Government and the Madurai district administration, a copy of which is available with Express, police patrolling had to be extended in Kuruvithurai for three more months as “Dalits are still under the grip of fear and insecurity.”
The Commission has also observed that the police officials had failed to register cases invoking appropriate sections under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance, 2014, in accordance with IPC sections.
Stating categorically that the affected Dalits admitted in Government Rajaji Hospital are victims of atrocity and they should be provided special treatment, it recommended monetary relief to all the 12 injured victims in accordance with the SC/ST (POA) Rules. Finding that there are no toilet facilities and cooking gas connections in Dalit houses, the NCSC urged the district administration to take steps on a war-footing to construct community and a couple of individual latrines and provide gas connections.
The other recommendations include a separate ration shop for the Dalits and distribution of ration cards, house pattas, voter IDs, Aadhaar cards and other documents to those who had lost them in the riots and pension to widows among others
Madhya Pradesh: Dalit boy dies as babus sits on free surgery file for five years
Summary: State Government provides financial assistance for treatment of heart patient children belonging to poor and BPL families under this scheme.Shobaram had been running from one government office to the other to get the financial help, but failed to get the documents signed in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s own constituency.District collector M B Ojha has inquiry after the matter was brought to his knowledge by local media. BHOPAL: District collector in Vidisha has ordered a magisterial inquiry to probe lethargy of government officials that led to tragic end of a 7-year-old dalit boy with a hole in his heart.Shivam, was suffering from this ventricular septal defect (VSD) — also referred to as a hole in the heart — a congenital heart defect that could have been fixed with a surgery.Ironically, it was in 2011 that his father Shobaram wrote a letter to the chief medical and health officer (CMHO) for financial assistance under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s pet Mukhyamantri Bal Hriday Upchar Yojna.
BHOPAL: District collector in Vidisha has ordered a magisterial inquiry to probe lethargy of government officials that led to tragic end of a 7-year-old dalit boy with a hole in his heart.Shivam, was suffering from this ventricular septal defect (VSD) — also referred to as a hole in the heart — a congenital heart defect that could have been fixed with a surgery.Ironically, it was in 2011 that his father Shobaram wrote a letter to the chief medical and health officer (CMHO) for financial assistance under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s pet Mukhyamantri Bal Hriday Upchar Yojna. State Government provides financial assistance for treatment of heart patient children belonging to poor and BPL families under this scheme.Shobaram had been running from one government office to the other to get the financial help, but failed to get the documents signed in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s own constituency.District collector M B Ojha has inquiry after the matter was brought to his knowledge by local media.. .
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