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Call for ‘Rohith Act’ to end campus casteism

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Students will teach PM Modi a lesson, says Arvind Kejriwal

Amid a raging debate over the unrest at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the left-leaning and centrist political forces of the country flocked to Jantar Mantar on Tuesday to support the family of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit Ph.D. scholar at Hyderabad University who committed suicide on January 17, and demanded a new legislation named “Rohith Act” to prevent caste-based prejudice in educational institutions.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat addressed the gathering.

While Mr. Gandhi accused the BJP government of crushing the voices of dissent among students, Mr. Kejriwal warned that the students would teach Prime Minister Narendra Modi a lesson, if he did not mend his ways.

Earlier, Vemula’s parents marched down the streets of Delhi from Jhandewalan to Jantar Mantar. Along the way, a crowd of about 5,000 people — students, teachers and civil society activists — joined them to protest against the tragic death and to oppose the government’s approach in the ongoing JNU crisis.

As the march ended at Jantar Mantar and Vemula’s parents sat on stage, the Congress vice-president was the first to arrive at the venue. Mr. Gandhi launched a direct attack on the Central government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Law needed to keep forces of suppression off campuses: Rahul

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday advocated a law that could keep the forces of “suppression” and “discrimination” under check on campuses.

Addressing a gathering at Jantar Mantar in support of Rohith Vemula, the Hyderabad University Dalit scholar who committed suicide on January 17, Mr. Gandhi said, “Rohith talked about the future of India,” “but the RSS [the BJP’s ideological mentor] doesn’t support that but only supports talking about the past.”

Mr. Gandhi accused the BJP government of collaborating with the RSS and “crushing the voices of dissent” of college and university students. To safeguard the voice of the student community nationwide, Mr. Gandhi called for a law, without naming the “Rohith Act.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also came to the venue to express solidarity with Vemula’s parents. Though he maintained silence over the JNU row, he squarely blamed the BJP government for “pushing Rohith Vemula to suicide.”

“The Modi government seems to be at war with the students of the country,” said Mr. Kejriwal. “The same youth that made him PM are standing against him today.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat, who was also present on the occasion, called Vemula’s death an “institutional murder.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2017 4:28:09 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/call-for-rohith-act-to-end-campus-casteism/article8272921.ece