Ambedkar Univ Dalit Scholar Alleges Caste Humiliation by Batchmate
The complainant alleged that college authorities did not take prompt action on her complaint.
The complainant alleged that college authorities did not take prompt action on her complaint.(Illustration: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

Ambedkar Univ Dalit Scholar Alleges Caste Humiliation by Batchmate

A research scholar at Delhi’s Ambedkar University has alleged being subjected to casteist slurs and continuous harassment by a batchmate.

The complainant, who did not wish to be named, told The Quint that the accused has been running “a campaign on the campus against me and has maligned my image by saying that I misuse my caste identity.”

The Allegations

The complainant told The Quint about the incident from June that led her to file an FIR with the police after repeatedly demanding a departmental meeting.

“In June, the accused in a public meeting said, “Bheek mangne ki aadat tumko hogi, hume nahi”. Some of the people present in the meeting objected to what she had said and asked her to apologise. However, she refused to offer an apology and went on to say that ‘I have said nothing that is casteist’.”

The complainant alleges, “Back in 2016 when we were in MPhil, I was not open about my caste identity publicly. However, she went around talking about my caste identity to both my seniors and juniors.”

“She has indulged in commenting on my parents and their profession to establish a hostile environment for me on the campus,” she adds.

One of her seniors The Quint spoke with said, “In 2016, when the accused and the complainant were doing their MPhil, the former had once told me that although the complainant practices Dalit politics, her father is from an IAS background. She basically tried to imply that a Dalit cannot be from an elite background.”

What Is the Accused’s Response?

Denying the allegations, the accused said the meeting in June was called to discuss how the students could help the sanitation workers who were agitating against the university’s sudden decision to dismiss 55 workers.

She says, “The discourse in the room was of ‘adhikar’, ‘haq’ and leadership. Kiska adhikar? Kaun dilaega? Kaise milega? was the flow in which all those who were participating in the heated discussion were arguing and meanwhile a representative from another student group responded to someone else, ‘protest se hi hum apna adhikar lenge, workers bhi khud apna adhikar mang rahe hain, protest karke’.

After which I said, “hamara to naara bhi yahi hai, ki hum apna adhikar maangte, nahi kisi se bheek maangte”.

“The whole discourse was on ‘haq’ and not on ‘bheek’ at this particular time, as very well manufactured and manipulated by the statement writers. It is very important to note here that the whole meeting was not between only DBAC and PDSC members but included several other organisations and collectives like SFI, KYS, QC, council members and individuals and alumni people.”

The accused also denied making comments on the complainant’s profession.


How Did the University Act?

The first time the college authorities were informed about the accused’s activity was on 13 June when the complainant’s seniors sent out a joint appeal to the professors including the Dean of the School of Human Studies, Krishna Menon. “There was no response to it,” the complainant said.

“Then I had sent an email as an individual to appeal for a departmental meeting to discuss this kind of behaviour. I was only seeking a departmental meeting and requested a written apology from the accused.”

The complainant says Menon told her, “It’s a matter of collegiality. You two are adults and political individuals. Please deal on your own.”

Dean of the Student Services Division, Santosh Singh, allegedly told the complainant, “I didn’t get time to read that big email that you sent but yes I got to know you have some complaint.”

“I had stated clearly that there is no SC/ST cell and that is why I was reaching out to the department. Since the accused, the complainant and all my witness are from the same department, I had requested for a departmental meeting,” said she complainant.

Additional Registrar of Ambedkar University, Anshu Singh, told The Quint, “Ms ***** was advised to approach the available mechanism within the University to address her concerns. A committee was constituted at School level to understand the issues. Another committee was constituted by the VC to address her concerns. The University Liaison Officer (SC) was a member of both the Committees. Various steps were taken by the University at multiple levels to engage with the student and address her concerns. However, the matter is now part of police investigation.”

Anshu Singh, however, did not know about the outcome of the two committees that were constituted.

No SC/ST Cell As Mandated by UGC: Complainant

The complainant alleged that there was no SC/ST cell in the university as mandated by the University Grants Commission. The UGC has called upon all Universities to establish 'SC/ST cells' in order to 'process the grievances of members of these communities'.

Anshu Singh said while the University had a grievance redressal cell, the SC/ST cell was “recently constituted” after the complaint.

What Happened to The Police Complaint?

Unhappy with the action taken by the college authorities, the complainant reached out to the police station. “After preliminary investigation, the police filed a FIR under the section 3(1) (r)(u). All offences are cognizable under the Atrocity act and therefore the police has to make an arrest. But 40 days have passed and no action has been taken.”

It must be noted that under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act Atrocity Act,1989, there is no need to conduct preliminary investigation before filing anFIR and making an arrest.

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