Casteism has been lurking in our systems as a product of historical grievances. From condemning the actions to being the perpetrator, is this deep rooted caste bias finding new ways to make itself comfortable?
Yet in another turn of events, a student from scheduled caste, hailing from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), had to face the atrocities of casteism. The victim, Sagar Kumar, was subjected to physical brutality over refusal to copy the assignment of the alleged attacker, Shubham Kumar. In a conversation with Dalit Desk, Sagar explained what he faced.
On 28 November, at night 11, I was studying in my room while Shubham came in and asked me to do his assignment to which I refused and told him the teacher can fail me for this. Several times he insisted but I refused. Thereafter he hurled Casteist slurs at me and started abusing me and beat me. Adding, I am mentally traumatized after this incident; strict action must be taken against him.
-Sagar Kumar told Dalit Desk.
According to the report by Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA), JNU, Shubham Kumar has been abusing Sagar Kumar for the past one year. This has put the latter through a great deal of purgatory and physical trauma. This incident is a reminder of the prevailing status quo arising out of casteism. BAPSA found Sagar Kumar with a high blood pressure. He was shivering in fear for his life while his voice was cracking. A complaint of the aforementioned incident has been lodged at National Commission for Scheduled Caste, Vasant Kunj Police Station, Equal Opportunity Cell (JNU) and Chief Proctor of JNU. The creamiest brains putting it out at the most premier institutions of the country makes me wonder, if we are too invested in literacy that educating the consciousness has taken a back seat.
The shameless shout out for impunity by Shubham Kumar only exposes the fault lines of the self-proclaimed island that JNU is.
The irony of the entire situation is the fact that we condemn the very actions that we see being perpetuated around us by our own people. From using the casteist slurs to mocking the minority in the name of comedy, we are witnessing a degree that is pulling us towards the breaking point. Institutional casteism is on the rise and this incident comes as no shock. A recent study suggests the lofty prevalence of casteism in higher educational institutions but the constancy of this sitch is quite overwhelming. What irks me is the smell of normalcy around it. Unless the blood oozes out of the situation, the discriminatory and defamatory acts are subjected to negligence. How can these deprecatory and belittling instances thrusted aside while condemning them?
The very existence of the grievances cell for the marginalised section in the educational establishments proves the existence of these preferential and unjust acts. Creation of these cells to seek redressal has pulled curtains over the actuality of the situation. This has made it easier to achieve those estranged dreams in the crippling shadows of the same. Meddling with casteism does question the political agenda and its pernicious relationship with it. A peculiar pattern can be observed in the same regard, even at the places of education. Meenakshi Yadav, the representative of Student Federation of India (SFI) from Lady Shri Ram College spoke to DU Beat. She questions the standing of this circle which instigates casteism while fulfilling their political dream.
Brahmans portray themselves that they are in-charge, they are in power. They feel a sense of superiority due to the presence of the current governing body.
-Meenakshi Yadav, SFI representative, LSR
It is a simple monopoly of strength to establish dominance of a caste by the ones in power. Showing the monochromatic nature of elitism, it pulls the reins of casteism. It aligns the political inclinations and caste-based notions, producing a class of inherent elitism. This is an establishment which teaches equality and the next minute pulls the card of ‘winner-winner, political dinner’.
Koi gujjar hai toh batado, humko dosti karni hai par sirf apne cast walo se.
-A first year student as quoted by Meenakshi Yadav, SFI representative, LSR
Delhi University has long been known as a place where tensions arising from casteism have been lit. Not long ago, it had displayed a reservation of their thoughts when the writings of two dalit writers, Bama and Sukhartharini, have been removed and replaced by the work of an upper caste writer, Ramabai. This altercation of syllabus poses a sheer threat to the sovereignty of the institute and questions the autonomy of the academic space. How can we account for the pillars of democracy with a prejudiced and biased eye? Is this discriminatory influence above the education imparted by the most premier institutions?
A student from Delhi University told DU Beat on anonymity, “It is quite usual for me to go about
my day and hear people using a language that might not be welcomed by any marginalised group. Even if we retaliate, all that comes out is a small laugh and the words are expected to be forgiven the next minute. It is quite normal to see the usage of such a language, be it in college or my neighbourhood. It is the same story spinning everywhere.”
Our civilizational past shows us the derogatory history of this section of the society. The pain inflicted on people like Sagar Kumar is told in pursuit of the lost self-respect and in anticipation to put an end to such infamous incidents. It is veracious to say that we are experiencing an infamous facade of cruel reality. The blatant act of turning a blind eye to the prolific iniquity by the prestigious establishments makes me question the due justice. Will a fair play swing by the wronged eyes or will it continue to serve exoneration to the offenders?
Featured Image Credits: ‘Skyscape’ by Rajyashri Goody via India Today