Academics, Activists Condemn Police, RSS Outfit Violence Against Dalits in Kerala’s Vadayampady

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 Vadyampady, 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.
Signatories:
1. Ruth Manorama, National Convenor, National Federation of Dalit Women, Delhi
2. Anand Teltumbde, Writer, political analyst and civil rights activist with CPDR, Maharashtra
3. Gajendran Ayyathurai, Postdoctoral Fellow and Study Advisor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany
4. Sharika Thiranagama, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, United States
5. Virginius Xaxa, Professor of Eminence, Tezpur University, Assam
6. M. Kunhaman, Professor, TISS, Mumbai
7. Rupa Viswanath, Professor, Centre for Modern Asian Studies, University of Gottingen, Germany
8. A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor, School of International Studies, JNU, Delhi
9. K. Satyanarayana, Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad
10. Sanal Mohan, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences and Hon. Director, IUCSSRE MG University, Kerala
11. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary, Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch
12. M. Amruth, Historian and Sociologist, KFRI, Thrissur, Kerala
13. T.M. Yesudasan, Retired Professor and Writer, Kerala
14. K.S. Madhavan, Writer, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Calicut
15. Cynthia Stephen, Writer and Researcher
16. Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher.
17. Ravichandran Bhathran, Founder of Dalit Camera
18. Karthik Navayan Batulla, Writer, Human Rights Activist
19. Irfan Engineer, Director of CSSS, Mumbai
20. Sruthi Herbert, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
21. M.B. Manoj, Assistant Professor, Department of Malayalam, University of Calicut
22. Vikramaditya Thakur, Assistant Professor, University of Delaware, United States
23. Rekha Raj, Programme Manager-Women Rights, Amnesty International, Bengaluru
24. Rajesh Komath, Assistant Professor, School of Social Science, MG University, Kottayam
25. Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan, Assistant Professor, EFLU, Hyderabad
26. Sumeet Mhaskar, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Student Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University , Delhi.
27. Abhilash Thadathil, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
28. Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma, Associate Fellow, Institute of Human Development, New Delhi
29. Anish Vanaik, Assistant Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Delhi
30. Varsha Ayyar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies, TISS, Mumbai
31. T.V. Sajeev, Scientist, KFRI, Thrissur
32. Brahmaputhran, Daya Hospital, Thrissur
33. Prashanth Bansode, Associate Professor, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune
34. Satheesh Kumar, Assistant Professor, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram
35. M.V. Bijulal, School of International Relations and Politics, MG University, Kottayam
36. N. Gopakumaran Nair, HoD, History, University College, Thiruvananthapuram
37. K.M. Sheeba, Associate Professor, Department of History, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Kerala
38. Dickens Leonard M, Guest faculty, Univ. of Hyderabad.
39. Mythri P.U., School of Distance Education, University of Calicut
40. Manju E.P. PhD Research Scholar, Univ. of Hyderabad
41. Sanjay Kumar Paswan, Independent research consultant for social sector agencies, Patna
42. R. Manohar, Regional Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Alert India
43. Dr K. Babu Rao, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
44. Sukla Sen, Peace Activist, Mumbai
45. Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative
46. Siddharth, Independent Researcher, Bengaluru
47. Jayaseelan Raj, Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
48. Maya K.S, Writer, PhD Research Scholar, Christ College, University of Calicut, Kerala
49. Prameela, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit Sahitya, Sree Sankaracharya University, Kerala
50. Jentle Varghese, Guest Lecturer, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala
51. Chandran Komath, Assistant Professor, Government College, Kottayam, Kerala
-Agency