(This note was written before the release of the 27 students and 2 teachers on bail. Round Table India shall continue to document all the courageous voices, of students and teachers alike, from UoH. We express great happiness at the release of the students and teachers, and also our continued support to their struggles)
A Dalit intellectual Prof K. Y. Ratnam, Dept of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, was arrested when he questioned the police as his students were lathi charged brutally and women students were molested in front of him by policemen. This brutal attack was for nothing, just when the students had peacefully assembled in front of the Vice Chancellor’s guest house to resist his arrival on the campus to resume his office, even as the judicial inquiry on him is in progress. He had been absconding immediately after Rohith’s death, finding himself guilty as he is the main cause for the death. After two months, when the campus had come to normality, his return was to disturb and provoke students and make them emotionally and psychologically stressed; he came unlawfully to resume his office even as cases had been filed against him.
As the student community went to clarify a few questions, i.e., where was he when Rohith had written a letter asking for euthanasia? How can he be so irresponsible as not to write back to him? Where was he when the institution murdered Rohith? What was his position and responsibility as the Vice-Chancellor when Rohith died? And many more questions. When the student group were peacefully carrying out their agitation to meet him, the VC’s house was vandalized by a few students who were already inside the house. What were those students doing in the VC’s house? Then false charges were filed on students who are part of the JAC. As per the Registrar’s letter requesting deployment of police force by the commissioner, the police came into the campus, and without any inquiry just started brutally attacking the innocent students who were peacefully protesting. This crackdown was questioned by Prof. K.Y. Ratnam, one of the very few student centric and humane teachers in the campus, when the entire faculty members were just watching the attack of the police as a kind of street theater.
An intellectual, a senior faculty member, who is heading the Centre for Ambedkar Studies for more than 4 years, a fully transformed Ambedkarite – could he have allowed the brutally done to his students go unquestioned? Female students were treated badly, in front of him, by using abusive language and threats to rape too. Will anyone keep quiet when female students whom he teaches are abused using these kinds of threats? Can he be silenced without stopping the police from beating his students? When he was asking the police not to beat the students and police too was replying to him, two policemen came and said ‘he is only Ratnam’ then the police started beating sir too. Is it not a target? Is it not a pre planned? Is it not victimization? After being beaten up in front of his students, he was again beaten up in the van and in custody too. Is it the way of treating a university professor? An intellectual? Is this the state’s duty to treat university professors like this? Is it not plain human rights violation by the police?
Apart from his humane values and morals, he is a great intellectual from the depressed community who has provided ideological rationale to the struggle against caste.
Working with Ratnam sir, as a Ph.D scholar, for the last three years I have learnt many theories, ideologies which Ambedkar has left for us, to fight against the casteist oppressors and to regain our rights. He is primarily my research supervisor, but he is also like a father and a friend too, at times. I feel proud to work under a dedicated teacher, real leader, reformer, rationalist, social transformator and an Ambedkarite.
When I went to meet all 27 who were arrested on false charges and remanded in the Cherlapally central jail, I heard from the students that sir’s health condition is a little unwell. But he is the inspiring and motivating source and factor for all the students who are inside the prison without their families, friends etc. And I also heard that sir is teaching concepts, theories and more on social movements. I felt happy that sir has resumed his work as teacher irrespective of the circumstances. As everyone knows his intellect in the campus, he again proved it in jail too that he is a great teacher. After listening to all, I met sir, the words he said were, “don’t bother about all these things, we have to fight and fight to get back all our rights”. As Ambedkar has taught us, “Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers, but by relentless struggle…. Goats are used for sacrificial offerings and not lions..” Likewise, Ratnam sir also motivated us visitors, from inside the prison, to carry forward the ongoing movement.
The entire student community who are in the struggle to attain justice for Rohith and fight against the hindutva administration in the university and also in the national context, are waiting to see Ratnam sir back in the campus and his Masters students are waiting for him to take classes.
We the student community will carry forward our peaceful and democratic protests that we were doing before and even after Rohith’s death.
Release Prof. K.Y. Ratnam, Dr. Tathagat and other 25 students who fought for social justice…
Agnes Amala. T is a Ph.D Scholar at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Hyderabad.