New Delhi- Gujarat MLA and a prominent Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani urged fellow Dalit-Bahujan politicians to join Dr. Ritu Singh's ongoing protest at Delhi University. The demonstration, now spanning 108 days, gained momentum as news of mass displacements of DU Ad-Hoc staff spread across the city. Recognizing a shared battle against systemic flaws, Dr. Ratan Lal Singh, a professor at Hindu College, stood in solidarity with Dr. Ritu Singh's cause.
The unique approach of using utensil beats during the sit-in became a symbolic expression of their fight against casteism, drawing inspiration from the idea that if banging plates could combat the coronavirus, it could similarly eradicate the societal virus of caste discrimination. The sit-in aimed to address issues faced by faculty in Delhi University and the embedded casteism within the educational system.
Jignesh Mevani, addressing the gathering, proposed a collective pledge among Dalit-Bahujan politicians to spend 24 hours in the movement, sitting alongside Dr. Ritu Singh and other educators advocating for equality. He emphasized the importance of political leaders demonstrating their solidarity by physically participating in the protest.
The MLA said, “On this day, let us take a pledge. We will call on every politician who is from Bahujan-Dalit communities, irrespective of the party they owe their allegiance to. They will be asked to spend 24 hours in this movement; to sit with Dr. Ritu Singh, Dr. Ratan Lal, Dr. Laxman Yadav, and many other teachers from the community who have taken the teachings of Baba Saheb to every possible household. We will see who turns up.”
He then turned towards the professors present in the sit-in and requested, “Let us all sit together to constitute a team that will send letters to all the politicians. It will be okay if they do not give a speech, but their solidarity should come out in the form of spending a night at this protest site.” Adding to his statement, the leader said, “We shouldn't stop here. Let's make a list to figure out which leaders from the Dalit-Bahujan community and which political parties are supporting our cause. For those who don't support us, the upcoming election will be crucial for them, and we'll unveil their true intentions.”
Mevani then turned the topic towards Dr. Savita Roy, who allegedly is responsible for the wrongful termination of Dr. Ritu Singh’s contract. The Dalit leader addressed the principal by saying, “You are a woman yourself, yet discriminating and abusing a fellow female colleague. I do not have anything to say to you but hand over a copy of Manusmriti.”
He then alleged the reason for the mass displacements taking place lies within the thought process of the system. “The system creates problems for people like Ratan Lal Singh for obvious reasons. They are the people who are molding the next generation. They are the ones who celebrate 14th April [B.R. Ambedkar Jayanti], 6th December [Death Anniversary of B.R Ambedkar], Constitution Day, talk about Phule, Periyar, and get on the streets to shout Inqilab Zindabad. The Manuwadi government will be scared of such teachers,” added the politician.
While addressing the people present at the protest site, Dr. Ratan Lal claimed there has been no nationwide movement against caste in a long time. He said, “I teach History. I can visualize what might happen to the nation in 15 years. Kanshiram used to lead protests on a larger scale, but unfortunately, our Dalit and Bahujan siblings are not doing so anymore. Whenever he used to organize a rally, the ruling government used to get scared. We do not protest, nor do we assert our rights anymore. That is why no one is paying any heed to us.”
The professor further opened up about the tokenism in political spaces and the visible saffronization that is not helping anyone. He remarked, “The Prime Minister may be from the Other Backward Class, and the President may be tribal. The Chief Minister or the Deputy-Chief Minister might be Dalit, but this representation does not matter at all. All have one goal—to protect the religion. And the definition of their religion is drenched in the Varna system. Tokenistic representation is not to be celebrated, but questions regarding the community’s right in politics and resources must be raised.”
“I was in Meerut yesterday. There, I saw a temple in the premises of Panchayat Bhawan. The same goes for most of the police stations as well, even when people from diverse backgrounds work there. This is what the RSS wave is trying to do to us; paint us in Saffron. Everyone is being made a Hindu, and Narendra Modi is nothing but an outcome of this thought process.”