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Rohith Vemula suicide: An ugly show of power-political nexus in India

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By Arnab Mitra

New Delhi: A student committed suicide in the wee hours of January 17 sparking a nationwide protest against political interference in the educational institutions. Rohith was a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad and he was expelled on the charges of assaulting an ABVP student in the University Campus.

This incident has its roots to a chain of events that spurted in August last year. Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), along with Ambedkar Reading Group, University of Delhi, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras, ASA (TISS) in Mumbai and some concerned students from IIT Bombay had issued a joint statement condemning an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) attack on screening of ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hain’ and death sentence awarded to Yakub Menon. Later, ASA’s University of Hyderabad chapter organised a protest demonstration and according to a report they had assaulted ABVP leader Susheel Kumar.

But the University authorities became pro-active only after the involvement of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and HRD minister Smriti Irani in this case and which led to a decision against five Dalit students including Rohith Vemula. The authorities asked the students to vacate their accommodation and their living spaces were also blocked.

As the incidence has flared up, questions have been raised regarding the involvement of Union ministers in the internal matter of the University. And it was quite shameful when the BJP spokesperson in a leading TV show said, “As Bandaru Dattatreya is the MP from Hyderabad, so he has every right to interfere in the University matter”. Supporting the statement a RSS leader said, “These students are anti-national and for that reason they were against the death sentence of Yakub Menon”.

Almost all the political parties tried to capitalize on Rohith Vemula’s suicide, including remote regional parties like AAP who have no presence in Hyderabad. They played politics on a young death, making it a Dalit issue. Unfortunately, politics will continue over Vemula and more so in the states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh since assembly elections are due.

Two issue emerge here: One, political interference in campus life. Second, as the  experience from the past tells, incidents of campus violence often become political in nature. “But do we need political interference in the educational institution, and are educational institutions for study or for doing politics?”, asks Dr. Santwam Sarkar, professor of International Relation, Jadavpur University.

Dr. Akansha Ganguly, a columnist of a reputed English daily says, “It is too shameful to understand that a student committed suicide on the force of a democratic union and its ministers and now everyone is doing politics on ‘Vemula’ and it will be a good object for some political parties to win the upcoming assembly election in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh”.

 

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Deepika Approaches Smriti Irani Against Attack on ‘Padmavati’ Rangoli

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Deepika Approaches Smriti Irani Against Attack on 'Padmavati' rangoli. Wikimedia

Surat, October 20: Actress Deepika Padukone on Wednesday urged Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani to take action against the attackers who ruined artist Karan Ks rangoli depicting a poster of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” here.

“Absolutely heartbreaking to see the recent attack on artist Karan and his artwork! Disgusting and appalling to say the least,” Deepika tweeted, along with photographs showcasing the before and after of the “attack”.

“Who are these people? Who is responsible for their actions? For how long are we going to let this go on? Allow them to take law into their own hands and attack our freedom and right to individual expression time and again,” questioned the actress, who essays the title role in the historical drama.

Deepika then tagged Irani and wrote: “This has to stop now and action must be taken! Smriti Irani.”

ALSO READDeepika Padukone Paid more than Ranveer for Padmavati

On October 15, Karan tagged Deepika on the micro-blogging site and wrote: “A crowd of 100 people cried Jai Shri Ram and rubbed out my 48 hours intense work!”

The artist also shared two photographs on social media. In one image, he can be seen making a rangoli inspired by the poster of the film, while the other shows the artwork completely vandalized by attackers.

“Padmavati” also features Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.

In the film, Deepika plays the role of Rajput queen Padmavati, while Shahid will be seen as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer will essay the role of Alauddin Khilji.

During its production, the film witnessed many ups and downs.

Earlier this year, activists of Shri Rajput Karni Sena assaulted Bhansali and vandalized the movie’s Jaipur set over alleged distortions in the film’s script.

They were forced to move to Maharashtra to continue shooting. Still, an outdoor set of the historic period drama in Kolhapur was burnt down after two dozen unidentified people torched it.

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena has maintained it will oppose screening of the film if the facts are “distorted”.

“Padmavati”, presented by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, is set for a December 1 release. (IANS)