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‘Rohith can die but no Dalit will be a hero’
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‘Rohith can die but no Dalit will be a hero’

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Rough translation of Rahul Sonpimple‘s (BAPSA, JNU) powerful speech outside SSS1, JNU on 10th May, on the hypocrisy of JNU left during the Academic Council Meeting, undermining the issues of social justice – like OBC relaxation and reduction of Viva voce – for the HLEC (high Level Enquiry Committee set up to probe the events of February 9th) Report. Both these two issues, Social Justice and HLEC report, are equally important, but the left prioritised HLEC and boycotted social justice. The speech was transcribed by Prameela KP and Ria De

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~ If Gujarat riot is fascism, if Gujarat riot is communalism, then those Brahmins, those Communist Brahmins who raped Dalits and minorities, killed Dalits in West Bengal, aren’t they fascist? They (Communists) have created this Hindu-Muslim binary for us. Always, in the name of communalism, they have created this Hindu-Muslim binary, and they have been successful in doing this. I want to say that this is not a strategy only by the RSS and BJP; this is also their (Communists) strategy. They want such issues to be created, so that Rohith can die but no Dalit will be a hero. Only an upper caste Bhumihar will be a hero, for whom Shri Ram and Ram are (apparently) different.

I want to say, Comrade, for me, I want neither Ram nor Shri Ram. I want Jai Bheem that opposes both Ram and Shri Ram. We will continue to oppose both, and that is why we need to understand that if in this campus we really want to do politics, if we really want to fight for the rights of Dalits and OBCs that has not happened for 60 years. In these 60 years, many big comrades have come and gone, who have been Presidents of this campus for many four years terms, but until now viva voce marks have not been reduced.

Till now big upper castes and Muslims have been Presidents of this campus, whose surnames start with feudal names. They say, “My Dalit friends should we take Ambedkar on our heads and dance?” And now, they don’t get tired of shouting “Jai Bheem, Jai Bheem”, because they know very well that if they don’t shout “Jai Bheem”, then all the Dalits and Backwards will move ahead of them. We must understand their strategy of shouting “Jai Bheem”, and that is why I repeatedly say that today they have stopped this (academic council) meeting; this meeting they have stopped over our dead bodies.

They do this every year. They will not allow any discussion on the viva voce marks. They will always create such situations. This binary that they have created of Hindu-Muslims, that of “state v/s us”. Brother, if you are against the state, then why the hell do you go to court? You know, the court is part of the state. It doesn’t exist in isolation. You should understand. You are a student of political science. I want to ask you, the people who are sitting on hunger-strike, I want to ask them, how many of you knew that your friends were going to court. If you have faith in the court, if you could go to court and get justice, then why did you do this drama of hunger strike?

You did this drama of hunger strike, because you know you can leave any organization that does not participate in elections, so you can form a new organization, become a hero of this campus…I want to say that sedition is not something new for Dalits and Adivasis. From where I come, Dalits, without any reason are locked up in prison in the name of sedition. In this country, there are movements to remove charges of sedition. Tell me something, lakhs of Dalits-Adivasis are rotting in Nagpur Central Jail on charges of sedition. For how many of them did Ravish Kumar start a national movement? Tell me, for how many of these Dalit-Adivasis did these comrades start a national movement?

You guys become political prisoners because you are a Bhumihar. You are the Hindu face, you are a Sayyad, but the Adivasis of this nation are not political prisoners for you. When will they be released? When will the progressive forces of this country, who make such long human chains, when will they make chains for us? These chains will never be made for us. In a gender binary, a man becomes frustrated when a woman becomes his equal. Likewise, when Dalits and backwards start doing well for themselves, these upper castes experience a blast in their heads. And that is why, if they were really progressive, then today we would not have to stand like this in this campus and speak for ourselves in such a manner.

I will never speak about Babasaheb to these people. I will say Lal Salaam to that Adivasi, I will say Lal Salaam to that Dalit, who can respect Lal Salaam. They (Communists) have no respect for Lal Salaam. Because if they really had any respect for Lal Salaam, they would have protested in front of the CPM office, where Chitralekha was exploited, where Jisha’s mother today is saying what Communists have done to her, where in Bengal Dalits have been raped. (If they had any respect for Lal Salaam) today, they would have protested, but no. And that is why Ambedkar says, the Communists of this country are morally fractured. They are morally corrupt because they have caste consciousness, and it will remain till the time we will not break this hegemony.

We need to break this hegemony in the name of Bahujan. We are Bahujans. We will show them that this campus, from henceforth will never have an upper caste consciousness. We will ensure that this campus will only have Bahujan consciousness. Jai Bheem! Inquilab Zindabad. ~

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Prameela KP is a Research Scholar in the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of Hyderabad. Ria De is a Research Scholar at the Department of Film Studies, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad,

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