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NCDHR strongly condemns of three marginalised EFLU students

AHRC-FST-030-2014
May 12, 2014

INDIA: NCDHR strongly condemns "calculated" expulsion of three marginalised EFLU students

A Statement from National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

New Delhi: The National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) strongly condemns the calculated expulsion of three marginalised students from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad on Tuesday for their alleged role in breaking the glass door of the university library on March 11 during a protest against the closure of the 24-hour reading room on campus.

The three targeted students, Mohan Dharavath, Satheesh Nainala, and Subhash Kumar, were rusticated by the university administration without any probe. While Dharavath is an Adivasi, Nainala and Kumar belong to the OBC community.

"It is shocking that no inquiry was conducted before the university issued orders. The students were not even given a chance to give their version. The decision to rusticate the three students for two years without any probe is extremely undemocratic and unethical," said Paul Divakar, Dalit activist and general secretary, NCDHR.

Dharavath is the president of the Dalit Adivasi Bahujan Minority Students' Union, Nainala is the general secretary of the Telangana Students' Association, EFLU, and Kumar is a senior member of the Democratic Students Front (DSF). When NCDHR spoke to the rusticated students, they said they were not even present when the incident occurred.

"I was hospitalised in Chennai and returned only a week after the vandalism while Satheesh was at the police station filing a case against the university administration for curtailing our right to education at the time of the incident," said Dharavath. According to Nainala, there were around 400 students present. "The glass door broke when there was a scuffle between the administration and the students. Nobody knows how the glass door broke."

The students said that the agitation was carried out by the Students' Council and they were only expressing solidarity. "We have been targeted for speaking against discrimination, corruption and authoritarianism of the university administration," they said.

Dharavath, who did his diploma and MA from the university, said that even at the time of his admission in PhD in 2009, the university didn't even have seats reserved for SC/ST and OBC candidates. He had to the take the university to court to ensure that there were reserved seats for SC/ST and OBC candidates. "Ever since then the university has filed many cases against me and I have to appear in court almost every month," says Dharavath.

Unfortunately, EFLU has a history of caste-based discrimination, exclusion and violence. On 16 November 2011, R Jayamurugan, a Dalit student pursuing BA second year in German was harassed by professors and a complaint was filed with the National Human Rights Commission. Another Dalit student Kush Kumar attempted suicide at the university. On 2 March 2013, PhD scholar Mudasir Kamran from Kashmir committed suicide. The discrimination ranges from deliberately failing Dalit and Bahujan students in certain subjects to verbal abuse and to rustication to physical violence to denying them basic rights on the campus.

The recent round of expulsions happened because they had taken up the suicide case of Kamran, who was unnecessarily harassed by the administration and even handed over to the police. "We even started exposing the university vice chancellor of other financial scams she is involved in and that really irked her," said Nainala.

Following the suspension orders, protests broke out at the university campus. Student groups supporting the agitation said that the suspensions were an act of revenge and the decision was illegal.

As per orders, the students will not be able to step inside the campus until December 31, 2015. Such a move will be devastating as Dharavath and Nainala are close to completing their PhD courses and due to submit their thesis this year, while Kumar is pursuing MA in Spanish. The drastic step is bound to put the students and their families in great distress as the students are the first in their families to pursue higher education. The students have not even told their parents about the expulsion because they fear that the news will leave them shattered. Dharavath's father is an agricultural labourer from Warangal while Nainala's father is a coal mine worker from Adilabad.

"Such targeted and deliberate discrimination is not unique against a wide pattern of caste-based bias that exists in our society. Therefore, we demand immediate withdrawal of the rustication order," added Asha Kotwal, general secretary, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch.

ENDS

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