Rise in Rage – Message of Solidarity for HCU Students: Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid

Guest Post by Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid

“We dissent, therefore we are”
The times we are living in are audacious. As the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces in collaboration with big corporates are attempting to browbeat (or even just beat) us into silence, what better time than today to be audacious, to show our audacity. And that is precisely what Rohith Vemula did, both in his life as well as in his death. He dared to dissent against the brahmanical and communal structures of discrimination and oppression. He posed a graver “national security threat” because he was not just speaking up against the oppression against the Dalits, but also tried to build solidarities with other oppressed communities – the Muslims and other minorities. 
Of course, this invited the wrath of the powers that be – of Manu-Smriti Irani, of Bandaru Dattatreya, of the puppet VC Appa Rao and the puppeteer – the RSS. This earned him the epithet of “anti-national” as he was murdered institutionally by the communal-casteist apparatus of the state. The motive of the state was to “teach him a lesson” and “teach a lesson” to all those voices who dared to be audacious. But in vain. Rohith’s murder sparked a fire that spread across the country – across universities – demanding justice for Rohith. The need was felt by the RSS/BJP to “teach a lesson” yet again. In JNU the attack came in the form of the facile “national/anti-national” debate. When this was thwarted, in HCU it came in the form of the re-installation of the puppet VC Appa Rao.

This, of course, was an insult to the cause of justice for Rohith. It was an affront to the very idea of social justice. And it was a direct challenge to all democratic voices in the country. This outrage, this indignation could not have been taken lying low. The students in HCU yet again showed their audacity as they rose in rage against the re-installation of a killer VC. And this was met with a brutal lathi-charge by the Telangana Police, a fascist witch-hunt of student activists and teachers, their arrest on bogus charges, suspension of mess-water-electricity-internet and other facilities. The university has been turned into a war-zone.

Today universities and educational institutions across the country are being turned into war-zones and prison houses. It’s a shame today that heads of institutions and VCs – whether in FTII or HCU – are being escorted into their own campuses under police protection. On the one hand the institutionalized discrimination against Dalits and other oppressed castes is either forcing students to drop-out or hang themselves thereby necessitating the incessant demand for a Rohith Act. While on the other hand, through a concerted effort the state is imposing the brahmanical Hindutva fascist agenda of the RSS in course-curriculum. On the one hand, the state is pursuing a policy of massive fund cuts, fee-hikes or privatization so as to make higher education unaffordable for a large section – particularly the oppressed caste/class. On the other hand, to achieve the same, the ruling classes have been preparing to quell all possible resistance to the above through depoliticizing campus-spaces and curbing any and every voices of dissent. Such are the diktats, the exigencies of the insatiable thirst of global capital for profit in its bid to overcome the inherent crisis. While such anti-student pro-privatization policies were set in motion by the erstwhile Congress governments with all earnest, under the present regime, further velocity and teeth has been added to the same. The tightening tentacles of fascism in the country with RSS at its helm has only meant further witch-hunt, increasing militarization, casteist targeting, and shrinking of democratic space for debate and dissent in campuses.  

But, much to the irritation of those in Nagpur, the more vicious has been the assault, the more spectacular has been the resistance. From being against the bogey of Love Jihad to being for Kiss of Love, from being against Ghar Wapsi to calling the bluff on Swacch Bharat, from being against Dadri killing to exposing the farce of Make in India, from Hokkolorob to Pinjatod, from FTII to IIT-Madras, from Allahabad to Calicut, from Occupy UGC to Justice for Rohith, from Stand with JNU to Stand with HCU – there is a students’ spring today that swells across the country. We the students, today, are the opposition. And it is this strength that was exhibited in the streets of Delhi when Justice for Rohith and Stand with JNU merged into a sea of resistance.

If we look back in history, at times when the ruling classes has intensified its assault upon the people across the world, it is the students who have taken up a vital share of responsibility to speak up, to dissent. And more often than not we have seen various such youth and student movements talking to each other, drawing from each other, inspiring each other and thereby strengthening each other. The Black Panther movement influenced the Dalit Panthers. The struggle in Vietnam triggered massive anti-war demonstrations across the universities in America. The students of France 68 inspired millions of students across Europe and the world. The Cultural Revolution led by students in Maoist China inspired millions including the students during the Naxalbari movement which in turn inspired thousands across the subcontinent. Similarly it is important today that the movements whether of the Dalits, the women, the minorities, the LGBTIQ community, the workers, the peasants – should all speak to each other and gain strength from each other. At a time of ascendant fascism, it is imperative that we build solidarities forged in struggles. Because, even today if we remain divided into red, blue and green and so on, even if today we remain divided in HCU and JNU – fascism will ensure that tomorrow none survives. Maintaining our ideological differences – our colours, sharpening our tools of criticism and self-criticism, we must shun the path of sectarianism and build genuine unity of the oppressed against the combined assault of the brahmanical Hindutva fascist forces and the forces of big capital. 

The attack today is relentless. So has to be the resistance. The bail orders for a few individuals in a campus can be a small battle won, but the war is far from over and there can be no respite today. We are confronting fascism today; it is a difficult fight, and no one ever said it would be easy. Let us fight for the release of the students and teachers put behind bars in Hyderabad and in the process let us intensify the struggle to oust Appa Rao, to seek justice for Rohith, to challenge the brahmanical fascist forces and their tightening noose.

Rise in Rage against the reinstallation of Appa Rao, the killer of Rohith Vemula as VC in HCU.

Condemn the brutal crackdown and arrests of students and teachers by Telangana Police.
Anirban Bhattacharya & Umar Khalid are both students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Delhi

8 thoughts on “Rise in Rage – Message of Solidarity for HCU Students: Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid

  1. K SHESYU BABU

    ‘Rage’ in right perspective… Continue the same tempo till a new Democratic order Dawn’s in India. Kudos!

  2. Dissentio ergo sum, nice slogan :) It would be really nice if what you said in the last line also caught the imagination of the public – to rage against the current situation. Thank you, comrades.

  3. It’s quite ok.The only thing is that we normally underestimate the oppressive might of state. More so when it is in the hands of cunning men and women. We have to be vigilant about their moves at every step. No body should be taken in by their sweet talk also. Their fraud should be exposed thoroughly.

  4. irene

    Just to point this out: they are saying students should study, not think politics. But they totally banked on the activism of students while waiting for Telangana formation. They used the students

  5. A Mother

    Dear three musketeers,
    I hate you for being who you are – bold, intensely passionate individuals who represent energy, change , compassion and faith . I don’t care about your political affiliations. That , is a matter of exposure and engagements that influenced your thinking. But I do hate you for the values that you hold . I hate you for dreaming about the possibility of impossible dreams- dreams of freedom from hunger, feudalism and casteism. Dreams about a better world.I hate you for taking my parenting dilemmas to another level of complexity .
    I have a ten year old daughter, brought up the Summer School way. I often curse the books Toto Chan and Summer School for putting me on difficult parenting track. Just as I get around to developing conviction for my choice, you happen. Murphy’ s law I guess.
    The other day, we were watching Niraja together –she huddled in my lap, eyes drooping with sleep. There is a dialogue where the father tells Niraja –galat kabhi karna nahin aur kabhi sehna nahin. She asks me “mumma, today I told Hitakshi not to harass Kahan. She told my it is none of my business. All my class mates told me to keep out of their fight . But mumma how can I keep quiet if some one is being bullied ? I am from the same school. What ever happens there, I am responsible for it.
    I realize this is serious stuff. She is ten. My dilemmas move beyond choices of letting her creativity flow by wasting one entire paint box on my wall versus teaching her value of money and proper usage of resources. Things are no longer in the realm of enjoying her endearing chants of chanjiv bhatt ko liha kalo” . Nor are they in the realm of admiration and wonderment about her questioning ability, her high compassion quotient, her efforts at negotiating and dialoguing to get her view point across. This is now about her sense of being. Does that arise out of being accepted amidst her peers or from her conviction about what she believes in. It is about her ability to be different, to speak out, challenge, to dream the impossible and believe it can happen. I need to make a choice.
    Some times I think, it is unfair that my profession gets rubbed on to my relation with her. I expect her to be an actualization of all concepts and theories I propagate as part of my work. If the world has to be a better place , she has to be tolerant, respectful of diversity, inclusive, other- centred..the list goes on. While this makes parenting more difficult for me it also makes life tougher for her. She is ridiculed for not having a religion, for not having a father, for her experiences of rural realities that she brings in their playful discourses, in short, for being different.
    You reinforce my self doubt about whether I am doing the right thing. If this is the fate of people like you, is she not better off being the common majority- silent, apathetic, consumed by self. Is it not better that she enjoys her life set on a track of material advancement? Is it not better that she lives in a world of Disney fairies to be replaced by Mills and Boons novels as she grows up?
    As I navigate through these thoughts, unmindful of her ongoing rattling, she produces a drawing – a globe held by small hands with a caption “save the earth” . She says-“See mumma my drawing it says this whole world is ours and we have to make this a better place for every body ” .
    I don’t know what to say. She has made the choice for me. She will grow up so that there can be more of your kinds. She will grow up to avenge the likes of you. She will grow up so that the impossible becomes the possible. She will grow up to live, not just to survive.

  6. irene

    happy to support your good fight. Especially because you young people are talking about forging unity, not holding on to pure ‘isms’.For saying things that long needed to be said and heard. For saying conciliatory things.For trying to build bridges.While you are at it, do point out where you draw the line at the extreme left (because most of us are wary of what lies at the left end of the spectrum, too). take care and be safe.

  7. suman

    It was inevitable that someone would come up with the ‘3 musketeers’, I too was tempted, but then remembered, no, there are more of you together, including a bright young woman. 1. considering that the majority of the students end up in private colleges and universities these days, any ideas as to how they too can broaden their minds, and develop critical thinking in the absence of a supporting environment? 2. Dont ever condone the violation of the right to live, EVER. 1984 is no different from 2002. Standing by and letting crowds rampage is not better than active encouragement. It is disturbing to see anyone evaluating the relative merits of such events.

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