This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

This Strongly Worded Open Letter To The Prez. Of India Demands Justice For Rohith Vemula

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Joint Action Committee

To

Mr. Pranab Mukherjee

The President of India

New Delhi

Sub: JUSTICE FOR ROHITH VEMULA and seeking immediate action against the brutal state repression in Hyderabad Central University

On the 17th of January, Rohith Vemula, a student of Hyderabad Central University (HCU), chose death over repeated humiliation at the hands of the administration. This institutional murder shook the entire university community. The branding of 5 Dalit students and activists of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) including Rohith as ‘anti-national’ by BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya, its vehement support demanding action against these students by HRD Minister Smriti Irani, and finally its crucial execution by Vice Chancellor P. Appa Rao by suspending and socially ostracizing all 5 students, led to the death of Rohith. Today, instead of addressing these concerns, P. Appa Rao, the man held directly responsible for the death of Rohith has returned to his seat of power as the VC of HCU and turned the campus into a war-zone. When the students of HCU gathered to protest the return of the VC, on 22nd of March 2015, they were brutally attacked by the Telangana police, the CRPF and RAF personnel. This attack on the students and teachers was brutal, unconstitutional and created an Emergency like situation in the University. The students were dragged and chased by the armed personnel outside the University while repeatedly being physically and verbally assaulted; many of the female students were threatened with rape and touched inappropriately. They were brutally beaten in the van after being detained, and again in illegal custody. Meanwhile, in the university, the mess was shut down, water supply and internet services were cut off and movement was curtailed by the HCU administration.

Today, it is clear that those in positions of power have the authority to end a student’s life with a few strokes of the pen. The VC P. Appa Rao, charged with abetting the suicide of a student, has free rein over the campus, uses the police force against the students and denies food, water, electricity and Internet access to the entire university. The collusion of the HCU administration with the Telangana police backed by BJP ministers at every level is a clear indicator of the extent to which Brahmanical Hindutva fascism has taken root in society. This assault on the rights of students to protest against an unjust system is indicative of the shrinking spaces for registering dissent in a country that calls itself a democracy.

This incident in HCU is not an isolated one. The assault on institutions of higher education all over the country from FTII to JNU reflects the ruling government’s systematic approach of targeting students and stifling dissent within university spaces. But with HCU, it is clear that repression only intensifies when the students at the receiving end come from Dalit, Bahujan and minority communities.We the students, teachers, workers, activists, intellectuals and people from all walks of life have come together to stand united with Rohith, with HCU, and with every student and teacher facing the batons of injustice disguised as the law.

The structural injustice exposed by the death of Rohith Vemula led to the formation of Joint Action Committee for Social Justice all over the country. Since his death, the response from the MHRD, the reporting from the media as well as the emerging debates shrewdly tried to divert the discussion away from the issues of caste oppression and students’ rights within education institutions. We demand that Rohith’s voice be heard and we refuse it to become a vote, a number or a thing, be silenced.

Today, we marched in protest to the state and police repression at HCU from Mandi House, but we were stopped on the way to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Hence, we are submitting this letter of demands to you hoping you would take immediate action in this regard:

· Removal of the Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University, P. Appa Rao.

· Enactment of ‘Rohith Act’.

· Removal of HRD Minister Smriti Irani and BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya.

· Immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all the charges on students and faculty.

· Arrest of all the culprits booked under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, as per the complaint registered at Gachibowli police station.

· Legal action against the police officers and other personnel who abused, manhandled and tortured the students and faculty.

· De-militarisation of the HCU Campus with immediate effect!

· Autonomy of Universities.

· Payment of minimum compensation of Rs.50 lakhs to Rohith’s family and employment of a family member at HCU.

· Appointment of a special public prosecutor in the concerned case of Rohith.

· Constitute a judicial inquiry (non-MHRD members) into all cases of discrimination and harassment of Dalit, Adivasi, OBC, Religious Minority students in all higher educational institutions.

· Implement Affirmative Action policies in all higher education institutions, irrespective of the management of the colleges.

Thanking you

Joint Action Committee for Social Justice – Delhi

Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Sign up here.

You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Sara Nomani

By Dalit Camera

By Sahil Basu

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below