Former Assistant Professor Dr. Ritu Singh has been at the forefront of the protest against the alleged display of casteism in her dismissal from the Psychology Department of Daulat Ram College (DRC) by Principal Dr. Savita Roy.
Protestors from organisations such as the Bhim Army Students Federation (BASF) and Mission Save Constitution have since the past 150 days joined Dr. Ritu Singh in claiming Gate No. 4 of the Arts Faculty of Delhi University (DU) to display their resistance against the structural casteism pervading the University.
The dismissal of the former professor had taken place midway through the COVID-19 pandemic without show-cause notice. Her allegations of casteist harassment against the DRC principal were initially dismissed by the Sessions Court, the High Court, and even the Delhi Police. Later, on 23 May, 2023, a complaint was registered by Delhi Police upon the intervention of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. A list of the signatures of 35 students provided by Dr. Savita Roy as evidence backing up the termination of Dr. Singh’s services was also, as The Quint reports, falsified.
The Mooknayak presents a recurrent account of alleged police supression against the scenery of blue flags fluttering in the midst of small businesses selling books on Dalit literature at Gate No. 4, which was then reportedly vandalised, protest tents removed, and protestors detained. The incident took place in the early morning of 9 January, 2024. Questions were raised about the subsequent imposition of Section 144, and a complaint was said to have been filed against the looting of Dr. Singh’s personal belongings and the alleged unruly behaviour of the police.
Protestors have further claimed that the site was washed with Gangajal and Gaumutra for its apparent purification, along with the locking of the university gates and the dismantling of a poster of Babasaheb Ambedkar. The protestors took to social media to question the motives behind such actions. Supreme Court Advocate Mehmood Pracha questioned in a post on Dr. Singh’s X (previously Twitter) handle,
How will a space become impure if Dr. Ritu sits down?
On 19 January, 2024 Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad joined the protest site to extend support and mark the death anniversary of Rohith Vemula. The Press Trust of India (PTI) reports that Azad, along with Dr. Singh, advocate Pracha, and around 80 other protestors, were detained and subsequently released.
In a conversation with DU Beat, BASF President Ashutosh Boddh confirmed the account of repression and claimed the structural complicity of the Vice Chancellor in the denial of justice and maltreatment of not just Dr. Singh but her fellow protestors. He cited the refusal to take action against the chargesheeted Dr. Savita Roy and DU registrar Vikas Gupta, the former of whom was in fact later appointed General Secretary of the Principals’ Association. He posed the question,
Why is it that we see locks on the University gates only when our demands are in question?
In a recent video uploaded to her YouTube channel, Dr. Singh sought an update on the five demands made before the Dean of Student Welfare. These demands include the immediate suspension of both Dr. Roy and Vikas Gupta, an investigation into the ‘NFS’ or Not Found Suitable option that the University allegedly resorts to when it comes to candidates of the reserved categories, as well as an inquiry into the other allegedly fraudulent appointments made to the University.
As of now, no requisite actions or response has been made on the aforementioned demands.
Featured Image Credits: Bhumika Saraswati via Instagram