Two Dalit men who shouted anti-Modi slogans during the prime minister's address at the convocation ceremony of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) in Lucknow on Friday were sent to preventive custody after being dragged away by the police. They were also evicted from the university hostel where they were staying as guests.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage, three Dalit men -- Ram Karan Nirmal, Amrendra Kumar Arya and Surendra Nigam -- started shouting "Modi, go back", "ModiMurdabad", "Inquilab zindabad, Phule Ambedkar zindabad". But they were soon silenced as the police detained two of them. Nirmal and Arya were booked under Section 151 (disturbance of public peace) of the Indian Penal Code, while Nigam was not taken into custody at all.
Arya drew comparison between their situation and the Rohith Vemula case. He said, "Every day we hear of discrimination against Dalits and Muslims. We see bias in every walk of life. We also have been mentally harassed in our university, BBAU, which faces institutionalised bias. Through our protest, we wanted to call out every atrocity faced by students like Rohith," reported The Hindu.
"We feel like responsible citizens who have the right to dissent. If given a chance we will do it again," he added.
"PM Modi tweets every minor and random thing â€” be it a Mayor election or wishing somebody on their birthday. But he has not said anything on issues of grave injustice, like the murders of Akhlaq, Dabolkar and Kalburgi," he added, according to the daily.
The former students, who were staying at the university as guests during the convocation, were thrown out before the expiration of their allotted period.
"I voiced my dissent. For that I was evicted from the Siddhartha Boys' Hostel of the university and my boarding for the night cancelled even though my room was booked for two days. We had deposited Rs. 200 for the boarding," Nirmal told The Hindu.
The prime minister, in his address at the university on Friday, finally broke his silence on the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and said that he understood the pain Vemula's family has been going through, and that "Mother India" lost a son. He also honoured Dr. Ambedkar and recited the Constitution maker's ideology of "educate, agitate, organise".
"What delayed him for so many days? Just because we protested he was forced to shed crocodile tears. He was forced to speak up merely for fear of losing Dalit votes in the 2017 elections," said Nirmal about the prime minister's speech of Vemula's demise.
Apart from the agitating students at the event Dr.Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar has also criticised the prime minister for "blatant hypocrisy".
"The fight is Ambedkarites versus the RSS Vedic philosophy; between equality and inequality. To fight those values and suppress the silent masses who support Ambedkar the RSS is trying to muffle the voice of 'vibrant Ambedkarites'," Prakash Ambedkar told The Hindu.
He also added that Dalits are unlikely to fall for the "antics" of the RSS and the prime minister in relation to the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.