The ongoing protest against the alleged systematic oppression and institutionalised caste discrimination intensified violently during a recent mass protest at the North Campus of Delhi University.
Trigger Warning: Casteism, Caste-Based Discrimination, Alleged Police Brutality, and Physical Violence.
Along with hundreds of other protestors, Dr. Ritu Singh was arrested by the Delhi Police outside Gate Number 4 of the Arts Faculty on Tuesday, February 6, after she had been demonstrating against the purported caste prejudice at Delhi University for more than 160 days. Dr. Singh, previously employed as an ad-hoc teacher in the Psychology Department of Daulat Ram College (DRC), has been advocating for justice by calling for the resignation of DRC’s principal, Dr. Savita Roy, citing alleged instances of caste-based discrimination. Following her termination during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dr. Ritu asserts that she was dismissed without prior notice, despite directives from the Ministry of Human Resource Development stipulating the retention of contract-based teachers. Accusing the principal of singling her out due to her prominence within the Dalit community, Dr. Singh also alleges that her objections to her termination resulted in her being subjected to caste-based insults and renewed threats.
Drawing support from across the nation, Dr. Ritu called upon individuals via social media to join her in a mass agitation against the prevalent caste-based discrimination in educational institutions and to hold the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University accountable. As per reports, on February 6 at 10:00 a.m., Dr. Ritu Singh and over 25,000 demonstrators from across India attempted to reach the protest location through the ‘Vallabhai Patel Chest Institute’. However, they encountered police buses and personnel deployed at the designated protest area to apprehend all supporters expressing solidarity. Bhumika Saraswati, a journalist providing detailed coverage of the protest, reported that there was heavy deployment not only of the police but also of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), also known as the Armed Border Force, operating under the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). It is purported that protestors were subjected to physical mistreatment, forcibly dragged and detained in 50–60 police buses, and faced casteist -slurs by the police personnel. Dr. Ritu herself was apprehended and transported to the Maurice Nagar Police Station. Reportedly, some protestors were taken to Jaffarpur Kalan Police Station, located roughly 35 kilometres away from the initial detention site, where they were allegedly forced to line up and subjected to verbal abuse.
It was dehumanising. I do not think a protest where the majority is from the upper caste will face such abuse.
– A fellow protestor commented.
In a video shared by Dr. Singh on her social media displaying injuries and bruises, she accused individuals affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of “attempted murder.” She claimed that these individuals employed knives and lathis (batons) against the protesters and purportedly hurled searing tea onto the face and body of ‘Bhim Army Student Federation’ (BASF) President Ashutosh Bodhh.
We have been attacked by RSS goons. They have declared that as long as they are present, no one can take action against the Vice-Chancellor or Savita Roy. This university is not a safe place for Dalits at all.
– Dr. Ritu Singh discussed it on her Instagram page (@officialdrritusingh).
Featured Image Credits: @officialdrritusingh