Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals Following the Court Sentence on the EFLU Defamation Case
We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern over the fact that five senior students of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), who were raising the issue of discrimination against SC and ST students in the EFLU’s Department of German, have on 13/12/2016 been charged with defamation of a professor and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. Their protests concerned Sreeramulu M, a ST student enrolled in the BA programme of EFLU’s German Department. Sreermulu had not been allowed to continue in the programme ostensibly for his failure to maintain grades. The others who have been sentenced are office bearers of associations representing such marginalized students; they were speaking at a Press Meet held on 24/12/2012 after Sreeramulu, who had been trying for several months to be allowed to continue his course and avail remedial classes, went on fast. The defamation case was filed in March 2013. Two SC/ST atrocities complaints filed by Sreeramulu M and again by another student, Ranjan Kumar, in January 2013 are pending with the Police and are yet to be investigated.
The countrywide discussion raised through the struggles following Rohith Vemula’s death in January 2016 drew public attention to the extent of caste discrimination in our universities. SC, ST, OBC and minority students figure disproportionately in the statistics for failure, drop out, expulsion, rustication and even suicide. Educational institutions and those who run them (teachers and administrators) have been forced to acknowledge that they are implicated in this terrible attrition of young citizens and know they must initiate reforms. Yet, far too little is being done to discuss this evidence, rethink rules, temper teachers’ attitudes, reform syllabi or challenge ideas of merit that discriminate against the marginalized. A teacher’s job is to help the actual students in the classroom to learn; not to uphold abstract standards of merit. From the courts, the underprivileged expect humane recognition of the inequities of their predicament and wise support for their cause. But what they have received is a demoralizing and intimidating signal. Continue reading EFLU Defamation Case Against Students – Statement by Concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals