In this debate of merit verses reservation, the brahmanical crookedness is working overtime through media. A tiny protest of illinformed people has been made 'national' by the 'national' media. Those of us who have been working against this very system, internet and web remain the best alternative source to get our voices spread all over the world.
I had filed a case with National Human Rights Commission regarding the harassment of
a bright Dalit scholar who completed his M.Phil and is not being enrolled for Ph.D at the National Law University, Raipur. To day, I have got official confirmation from NHRC that they have send notice to Secretary, Higher Education, Government of Chhatishgarh in this regard and asked them to send a Action Taken Report in this regard with in four weeks. The notice was issued on 21st of April, 2004.
Abhishek Anand case suggest how Dalit face discrimination at different levels. It is doubly important for the government and educational system to ensure that issue of diversity and affirmative action become a part of our national life and not just 'sarkari' orders.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi April 6, 2006
Re: Harassment of a bright Dalit student in the Hidaytullah National Law University, Raipur
I write this to inform you about Abhishek Priya Anand, a student who enrolled for Integrated Interdisciplinary ( M.Phil-Ph.D ) course from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, Chhatishgarh. Abhishek took this four-year residential course offered by the University in July 2003.
According to structure, he should have been provided M.Phil degree in the very first year but that did not happen. His M.Phil was prolonged for one year and finally he got his worksheet for M.Phil after two and a half year. There has been no notification issued in writing to him as why has his case being delayed. Even when Abhishek wanted to enroll for the Ph.D, the University has shown no interest in dealing with him.
During my recent visit to Raipur to attend a National Seminar on " Towards a National Dalit Policy', I met Abhishek Priya Anand when he discussed the issue with me. I was shocked to hear from him the problems that he had been facing. It seems that the University authorities have targeted him deliberately that smell deep caste prejudices.
Abhishek has been a bright student all his life. He is a Master of Science from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam and got around 68% of marks. When he enrolled for this
comprehensive integrated course, he never realized that he would face a severe threat to his career. He
was supposed to get teaching assignment from the second year but was denied the same. The students
from other castes are clearly favored. He got his stipend of Rs 5,000/- for just two months only and that
too in the second year only. Most of the other student received it for over 5-6 months. None of them
have been informed as why the stipend was not given. In the third year, Abhishek was supposed to
get Rs 10,000/- per month to pursue his Ph.D.
According to documents made available to us, a three member committee formed to look into the matter had come to unanimous conclusion that Abhishek be enrolled for the Ph.D programme. The Vice Chancellor of the University Dr M.K.Shrivastava has not only not taken any interest in the case but also seems to have a prejudiced mind. After three years of staying at a place, the Vice Chancellor ordered Abhishek be thrown out of the University Hostel. Abhishek was told that since there is no faculty for his specific case, he couldn't be enrolled in the University as a Ph.D student.
It is amusing that a University which officially offer courses in certain categories deny the same to one bright student and that too from a Dalit community which remain marginalized, not due non availability of merit or meritorious students, but with deep rooted prejudices in our system. It was easy for the Vice Chancellor to ask the student to go back but where would the student go. Abhiskeh has written to every one in the University including the Vice Chancellor and other State authorities but so far nothing has happened. It is imaginable that a student cannot go too far fearing a backlash from higher authorities who are out to destroy his career.
Other Dalit students in graduate and postgraduate classes also confided with me in Raipur that their life is made difficult under the current administration. They are not allowed to venture out freely outside the campus.
Abhishek wants justice to be delivered because his future is doomed if the University does not enroll him. He switched to Law from M.Sc in Chemistry. The University was offering the course and he shifted. He is hardworking and cannot afford to lose three years period that he has devoted to his new course including obtaining M.phil degree. A young student cannot be denied justice under the pretext of unavailability of faculty. Who is going to compensate him for his years that he has devoted in the college.
I am enclosing the details of Abhishek Priya Anand which I have received from him through emails. I have got one copy of his letter addressed to NHRC when I was coming back from Raipur. We are also enclosing various petition of Abhishek's to the authorities including the advertisement regarding the course given by the University in the newspapers.
We are ready to provide all other details to NHRC in this regard. As a social activist, who has been working on the issue of human rights of the marginalized, I must say, Abhishek's case is a fit case for NHRC to intervene effectively. His case reflects how the caste prejudices are still strong in our society. Chhatisgarh is under Naxal threat because Dalits, Adivasis are further marginalized and people are losing faith in the institutions. This faith in the institutions can only be restored if justice is not only done but also done speedily. Dalits have continuously opted for a constitutional remedy even when they have to face the brunt. I do hope that an institution such as NHRC would come forward to the rescue of young Abhishek so that his faith in Law and constitution remain intact.
There are a few questions of propriety and ethics which should be asked from the authorities:
How can they deny a student right to study further without completing his full courses. No show cause notices have been served to the student if he violated any order of the authorities.
Can a student be responsible for joining a course if the University does not find faculty for the same ?. Why did the University go ahead with the programme ?
Abhishek has not been given teaching assignment despite the fact that second year student often get the same.
He was given stipend for two months only. Why has it not been given and why it was stopped.
Universities action has given tremendous mental torture to a bright student and it has now asked him to vacate the hotel. Who is going to compensate for that.
We hope that a prompt action from NHRC will give justice to a Dalit student. NHRC should seek an explanation from the authorities as why have they been harassing a student who is brilliant and has been enrolled in the institution with all necessary requirements.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Social Development Foundation,
Wednesday, May 17, 2006