Dalits have been fighting against ‘a caste wall’ built around the community space in their neighbourhood in Vadayampady for over a year now.
New Delhi: Around 50 academics and activists on Thursday released a statement condemning the police and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-sponsored violence against Dalits in Vadayampady in Kerala.
For over a year now, Dalits have been fighting against ‘a caste wall’ built around the community space in their neighbourhood in Vadayampady, east of Kochi.
On February 6, 2018, six RSS activists were arrested for allegedly threatening noted Malayalam poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar in Kollam district when he was returning after addressing a gathering at a function on February 5 night. Sreekumar had expressed his solidarity with Dalit protestors.
The issue was raised in the Kerala assembly on Tuesday, and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office directed the police to take action and conduct a probe into the incident.
Read the full text of the statement below.
Statement Condemning Violence Unleashed by the Police and the RSS Outfits Against Dalits in Vadayampady
We the undersigned express our grave concern over the brutal violence unleashed by the State Police and the RSS outfits against the Dalits in Vadayampady in Kerala. Dalits in Vadayampady are protesting over a year now against the ‘Caste Wall’ built by the upper caste blocking Dalits from entering into the common space/playground used by the public for decades. The peaceful protest by Dalits against the wall of exclusion is met with brutal attacks by the police force of the state commanded by CPI-M led left government, as well as by the upper caste in the locality led by the RSS. It is indeed shocking that the police manhandled and arrested those who went to Vadayampady in solidarity, and also to participate in Dalit Self Respect Convention, including well-known activists and writers such as K.K. Kochu, K M Salim Kumar, C S Murali, Mrudula Devi Saidharan, Dr. Dhanya Madhav, Dr. P G Hari, KK Baburaj, and Gomathi Augustine of Pembillai Orumai.
Ironically, the police acted as spectators when the RSS attacked the Dalit protesters. The violence in Vadayampady is one among the several recent instances of the police brutality and connivance in the RSS led onslaught against Dalit protestors and media reporters in the state. It is alarming that even the state police forces commanded by a left government is colluding with the right wing religious extremists to protect the interest of the upper caste, their illegal claims and acts of social segregation. This and the subsequent inaction by the law enforcing agencies had enabled a vacuum in law and order leading to physical and verbal assault against poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar by the RSS outfits on his way back to his home after declaring his solidarity with the Dalit protesters. We strongly condemn the attack on Kureepuzha Sreekumar.
We are also concerned about the cold response of the government and the left parties who attempt to side-line the police violence as a ‘minor issue’. CPI-M and other left parties in the government are supposed to be part of the progressive forces of the country. But it is felt that the Dalit-Adivasi agitators are often portrayed by even the dominant left as Maoists/anarchists/terrorists in their attempt to strategically delegitimise the Dalit-Adivasi Struggles. We are afraid that this would result in the weakening of fight against various social injustices while increasing the attack on the marginalised groups in the country. The current Dalit struggle in Vadayampady which has been ongoing for more than a year has roots in how Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized groups in Kerala have been discriminated against accessing public places, and deprived of land and resources by both left and right wing governments. We feel strongly than ever now that the situation of state forces colluding with right wing religious forces unleashing violence against Dalit protesters in Kerala is equally alarming that of the cases of from elsewhere from the country and needs to be resisted. We call forth all the progressive forces in the country and beyond to contempt and challenge the increasing violence against the Dalits and urge those agencies whose mandate to uphold the values and rights promised in the constitution to take steps to bring the culprits before the law in a befitting manner.
- Ruth Manorama, National Convenor, National Federation of Dalit Women, Delhi
- Anand Teltumbde, Writer, political analyst and civil rights activist with CPDR, Maharashtra
- Gajendran Ayyathurai, Postdoctoral Fellow and Study Advisor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany
- Sharika Thiranagama, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, United States
- Virginius Xaxa, Professor of Eminence, Tezpur University, Assam
- M. Kunhaman, Professor, TISS, Mumbai
- Rupa Viswanath, Professor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany
- A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor, School of International Studies, JNU, Delhi
- K. Satyanarayana, Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad
- Sanal Mohan, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences and Hon. Director, IUCSSRE MG University, Kerala
- Asha Kowtal, General Secretary, Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch
- M. Amruth, Historian and Sociologist, KFRI, Thrissur, Kerala
- T.M. Yesudasan, Retired Professor and Writer, Kerala
- K.S. Madhavan, Writer, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Calicut
- Cynthia Stephen, Writer and Researcher
- Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher.
- Ravichandran Bhathran, Founder of Dalit Camera
- Karthik Navayan Batulla, Writer, Human Rights Activist
- Irfan Engineer, Director of CSSS, Mumbai
- Sruthi Herbert, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
- M.B. Manoj, Assistant Professor, Department of Malayalam, University of Calicut
- Vikramaditya Thakur, Assistant Professor, University of Delaware, United States
- Rekha Raj, Programme Manager-Women Rights, Amnesty International, Bengaluru
- Rajesh Komath, Assistant Professor, School of Social Science, MG University, Kottayam
- Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan, Assistant Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad
- Sumeet Mhaskar, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Student Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University , Delhi.
- Abhilash Thadathil, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
- Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma, Associate Fellow, Institute of Human Development, New Delhi
- Anish Vanaik, Assistant Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Delhi
- Varsha Ayyar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies, TISS, Mumbai
- T.V. Sajeev, Scientist, KFRI, Thrissur
- Brahmaputhran, Daya Hospital, Thrissur
- Prashanth Bansode, Associate Professor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune
- Satheesh Kumar, Assistant Professor, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram
- M.V. Bijulal, School of International Relations and Politics, MG University, Kottayam
- N. Gopakumaran Nair, HoD, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram
- K.M. Sheeba, Associate Professor, Department of History, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Kerala
- Dickens Leonard M, Guest faculty, Univ. of Hyderabad.
- Mythri P.U., School of Distance Education, University of Calicut
- Manju E.P. PhD Research Scholar, Univ. of Hyderabad
- Sanjay Kumar Paswan, Independent research consultant for social sector agencies, Patna
- R. Manohar, Regional Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Alert India
- Dr K. Babu Rao, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
- Sukla Sen, Peace Activist, Mumbai
- Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative
- Siddharth, Independent Researcher, Bengaluru
- Jayaseelan Raj, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
- Maya K.S, Writer, PhD Research Scholar, Christ College, University of Calicut, Kerala
- Prameela, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit Sahitya, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kerala
- Jentle Varghese, Guest Lecturer, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala
- Chandran Komath, Assistant Professor, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala