Groundxero | News Report
August, 19th, 2021
On 16 August, 2021, Dr. Neelam, a Schedule Caste (Dalit) professor, in the Hindi department at Delhi University’s Lakshmibai College, was slapped publicly in front of her colleague by Dr. Ranjeet Kaur — the teacher-in-charge — for not signing on the minutes of a meeting.
Dr. Neelam was known for being vocal on Dalit rights, for which she has been targeted from time to time. She filed a complaint with the police as well as with the principal of the college about the abusive incident, and complained that she has been targeted, humiliated and slapped in public view in presence of a large number of teaching staff of the college, due to the casteist mentality of the accused teacher who still considers members of scheduled caste as inferior to themselves.
A press conference was organized by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) on 19 August, at Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) Office, on the issue. Dr. Neelam informed the press about the details of the incident.
The incident took place during a meeting in the college on Monday, when teacher-in-charge Dr. Ranjit Kaur who is an associate professor in Lakshmi Bai college slapped her after Dr. Neelam asked for time to go through the minutes of the meeting. There were 13 teachers who were also present at the meeting and saw this whole incident. Dr. Neelam alleged that Dr. Ranjeet Kaur has been plotting against her since the time of her appointment and instigating students against her.
Dr. Neelam complained to the principal of the college of the said incident and filed a written complaint but it was not accepted by the office of the principal. After which, she went to the Bharat Nagar police station, where she gave a written complaint to lodge F.I.R against the accused Dr. Ranjit Kaur. Dr. Neelam accused the police of working in collusion and under the influence of the accused. Dr. Neelam wanted to register a FIR under the provision of SC& ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, however, the police officials didn’t register her case under relevant provisions of the law and have given assurance to file the complaint on 18th August but the complaint hasn’t been registered yet.
She told the press that the college authorities are pressuring her to withdraw the case and have issued an arbitrary show-cause notice to her. Dr. Neelam said that she will fight for restoring her dignity and termed the issue is not about just slapping her, but a symbol and alarm for anyone who tries to speak against them, and they will shut it down.
Professor Dr. Kanchan, Department of Education, Central Institute of Education (D.U.) condoned the inhuman and unlawful incident and said that it is very shameful that even today, incidents of such caste atrocities are taking place in higher educational institutions. The one who has slapped Dr. Neelam has slapped academic institutions integrity and humanity as well, he added The violence on Dr. Neelam is the reflection of the upper caste mentality which is still prevalent in the educational institutes.
Ms. Ena Zafar, National Coordinator, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch, vehemently condemned the violence committed on Dr. Neelam and said that it is a matter of deep shock that such an incident has taken place. He added, “We celebrated the 75th Independence Day in the country, but we are still not free from our caste prejudice mentality and approach. It is to be noted that such an incident took place in the prestigious university of the country between two teachers”.
Professor Geeta Sahare, Deputy Dean, Campus Development, D.U., spoke at the press conference. She called the decision of the college administration’s decision to issue show-cause notice to Dr. Neelam, instead of taking immediate action against Dr. Ranjit Kaur, as shocking and ‘even more unfortunate’. She said that they will keep fighting until justice is achieved in the case and demanded an independent enquiry Commission to probe the incident.
Ms. Pushpa Vivek Rashtriya, Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, said that this incident with Dr. Neelam has been done to stop the demand for rights of the Dalit community. The society is not able to tolerate the participation of the Dalit community in higher education. “Wherever there are vocal voices and assertations of Dalit consciousness from the community or there is resistance, efforts are made to suppress them. This incident is also the same, suppress the voice of resistance”, she said.
Dr. Raghunath Prasad, Secretary Staff Council, Satyawati College, D.U., said
This incident shows the casteist face of Indian society. Whether they are educated or illiterate, the consciousness of caste supremacy is engrained deep within. This incident with Dr. Neelam is a sign of the same supremacist mindset. Case should be registered immediately under SC/ST act. and immediate action must be taken against the guilty teacher. Dr. Neelam is the President of the Staff Council and the casteist attack on her is an attack on a leader, so the entire teacher community of DU should unite and demand immediate action in this case.
Among others who addressed the press included Dr. Suman Sonkar (Economics Department, Lakshmibai College, D.U.), Dr. Sujit Kumar (Hindi Department, Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, D.U.), Dr. Sandeep (former Vice President of DUTA), and Dr. Sagar (SDTM President, Professor, D.U.). In the end, Dr. Neelam stressed that she has received no support from the college authorities and is being harassed. Even the press is not allowed to meet her in college premises. She demanded:
- Immediate termination of Dr. Ranjeet Kaur from all her posts.
- Immediate arrest of Dr. Ranjeet Kaur under SC/ ST Act (PoA) 1989.
- Withdrawal of arbitrary show- cause notice issued against her.
- Independent inquiry to be set up to investigate and punish college administration’s negligence and support to the culprit.
The press conference concluded with a round of question-answers from the press.
(This news report is based on a press release issued by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), which organised the press conference.)