Students demand 'Rohith Act' to end caste bias in varsities

rohith-vemula-act (File) Rohith Vemula

The students of University of Hyderabad (UoH) are planning a nation-wide campaign to drum up support for their demand of a “Rohith Act” to end caste discrimination in colleges and universities.

Named after the Rohith Vemula—the Dalit scholar whose suicide triggered a nationwide outrage against instances of alleged caste discrimination in higher education institutions—the students want the Act to be modelled along the lines of Nirbhaya Act.

Although the actions against five other UoH students, who were were suspended along with Rohith following complaints of an on-campus scuffle, has been revoked immediately after the suicide, the students feel that there is an urgent need for enactment of a separate law to tackle caste discrimination.

A campaign is to be launched in New Delhi on February 23 to mobilise support for formulation of a central act to end caste discrimination, exclusion and humiliation of Dalits in higher educational institutions.

“We are in touch with Sukhadeo Thorat, professor emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research, and other academicians sympathetic to our cause for preparing a draft bill in this regard,” Vijay Kumar, a suspended student, said.

Efforts are also on to get the support of all political parties in order to get the legislative mechanism for protection of Dalit rights in educational institutions. The students of the university also have gone on a bus yatra to Andhra University in Visakhapatnam for support from fellow students for their nation-wide campaign.

Along with the “Rohith Act”, the students are also demanding to introduce deterrent punishment for university officials who ill-treat or boycott students from marginalised sections.

The students are also demanding implementation of “Thorat Committee” report on ending caste discrimination in universities.

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