Caste should be seen as the overarching category in Indian society: Khalid Anis Ansari

 

Round Table India

In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof. Khalid Anis Ansari, Director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative Action (ACESTA), Glocal University, Uttar Pradesh.

khalid

The interview focuses on the Pasmanda movement, on the issues of secularism/communalism and on the upper caste hegemony in all political, cultural and social fields in India. The interview was conducted by Kuffir, Contributing Editor, Round Table India, and produced by Gurinder Azad.

You can watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWeeaXADPBw

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Kuffir: So, what does Pasmanda mean?

Khalid Anis Ansari: Pasmanda is a Persian term, which means ‘those who have been left behind’. So if you look at the term, it has parallels to the term ‘Dalit’, which is used for the ex-untouchables. Dalit means broken down, someone who has been stepped upon. So it’s a similar term. Pasmanda actually encapsulates the Bahujan Muslims. Just like in the so-called Hindu community, there are OBCs, Dalits, STs, and the Bahujan term is the broad signifier which captures these experiences - similarly, Pasmanda captures the experiences of the OBC Muslims, the Shudra Muslims, the Ati-shudra Muslims, and also the Adivasi Muslims. So it’s a broad signifier; it’s an umbrella term which captures all these groups.

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Bheel Intellectual Forum: Heartbeat of Dalit Activism in Pakistan

 

Sufi Ghulam Hussain

On 26th of March, the Bheel Intellectual Forum (BIF) organized a Scheduled Caste Jagarta Rally, the first ever rally that saw the participation of all major Dalit communities of Sindh. Kolhi, Bheel, Meghwar and Baghri walked through the streets of Mithi city of Tharparkar to demand rights of Scheduled castes communities, and the Dalit leaders spoke on the importance of marking the Scheduled Castes option in the ongoing 6th population census in Pakistan. Interestingly, in census forms, the 'Scheduled Caste' category has been inserted as one of the religions in opposition to 'Hindu' category. Dalits have been left to mark either 'Hindu' or Scheduled Caste in the census form. This has put Dalit communities in an unusual situation as almost 95 percent of Dalits in Pakistan are believed to be Hindus by religion. Dalit leadership has risen up to the challenge to assert themselves as the most original indigenous Dravidian 'Scheduled caste Hindus'. Despite very huge opposition and internal conspiracies fomented by the foot soldiers of Brahmanism, BIF along with Dalit Sujaag Tehreek, Scheduled Caste Federation of Pakistan, Sindh Kolhi Itehad - all voluntary community based social and political organizations of Dalits, have been at the forefront to mobilize Dalits to mark 'Scheduled Caste' instead of 'Hindu' in the March-April census, 2017.

mahesh bheel

Mahesh Bheel, 27, along with Lajpat Rai Bheel, Chetan Bheel and Bhagchand Bheel, is one of the founding members of BIF. He has been ex-President and currently a member of the Bheel Lawyers' Forum that deals with legal cases pertaining to Bheel and Dalit communities. BIF was initially a university students' association formed on 25th November, 2010, that gradually came to be the most vibrant community driven Dalit forum. Making themselves visible to the mainstream, shaming the upper caste Hindu business class, and mobilizing through rhetorical speeches is the modus operandi of BIF. BIF activists work like a team.

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जे.एन.यू. में ब्राह्मणवाद की खेती: जितेन्द्र सुना

 

जितेन्द्र सुना

मुथुकृष्ण्न की संस्थानिक हत्या के विरोध में 16 मार्च, 2017, को बपसा द्वारा आयोजित प्रदर्शन मे भाषण; अंग्रेजी से हिंदी में अनुवाद: अंजली

jitendra sunaमेरा नाम जितेन्द्र सुना है और मैं उड़ीसा के कालाहांडी जिले के एक सुदूर गाँव पोउर्केला से हूँ| मैंने अपनी हाई स्कूल की पढाई बी. आर. अम्बेडकर उच्च विद्यापीठ पोउर्केला से की, लेकिन उस दौरान मुझे यह नहीं पता था कि डॉ. अम्बेडकर कौन थे? जब मैं आठवीं कक्षा में था उस समय मैंने अपनी माँ को खो दिया, मेरी माँ हमारे परिवार की मुखिया थी| मेरी माँ हमें साइंस स्कूल में पढ़ाना चाहती थी लेकिन उनकी मृत्यु के बाद मेरे परिवार की आर्थिक स्थिति इतनी अच्छी नहीं थी कि हम साइंस स्कूल में पढ़ सके| अपनी बारहवीं कक्षा की पढ़ाई पूरी करने के बाद मैं कुछ पैसे कमाने के लिए दिल्ली आ गया| मैं अपने भाई के साथ काम पर जाता था| मेरा भाई उस समय आई. जी. एल. (इन्द्रप्रस्थ गैस लिमिटेड) में सहायक के पद पर काम किया करता था, मैंने भी वहां सहायक के पद पर काम करना शुरू किया | वहां हम लोगों के साथ एक और आदमी भी काम करता था, जिसका नाम अभी मुझे याद नहीं है, लेकिन उसका आखिरी नाम मुरारी था | वह अक्सर मेरे भाई से पूछा करता था, "सुना का मतलब क्या है"? मेरा भाई हमेशा इस सवाल से बचने की कोशिश करता और कभी अपना गोत्र और जाति नहीं बताता था| मैंने दिल्ली में रहने के दौरान इस असहजता को महसूस किया | एक साल काम करने के बाद, मैं अपने गाँव वापिस चला गया और वहां बी. ए. में एडमिशन लिया |

अस्पृश्यता और जातिगत भेदभाव की घटनाएँ मेरे गाँव और पूरे उड़ीसा में घटने वाली बर्बरतापूर्ण घटनाएं हैं | बचपन में मेरा एक दोस्त था जो मेरे ही गाँव से था | मैं अपने उस दोस्त को खास अवसरों पर अपने घर खाने पर आमंत्रित करता था| वह बहुत मिन्नतें करने पर मेरे घर में कुछ खाता था| जब भी मैं उसके घर जाता, तो मुझे उसके घर के बाहर कुछ खाने को दिया जाता, यहाँ तक की मुझे घर के बरामदे तक में नहीं बैठने दिया जाता था| उसके घर खाना खाने के बाद मुझे बर्तन धोकर वापिस करने पड़ते| ऐसा व्यवहार मेरे लिए इसलिए होता था क्योंकि मैं दलित समुदाय से था| ऐसा छुआछूत का व्यवहार रोजमर्रा की बात थी; यह अछूतपन हमारे जीवन में सामान्य व्यवहार का हिस्सा था| उस समय मैं यह नहीं सोच सकता था कि यह सही है या गलत, क्योंकि मैंने यह व्यवहार अपने जन्म से देखा था | एक दिन अपने दोस्त से बाते करते-करते मैं उसके घर के दरवाजे तक चला गया, उसकी माँ अचानक डर गई जब उसने देखा कि मैंने दरवाजे को छू दिया है| वह तुरंत मुझ पर चिल्लाई और बोली, "तुम्हारी हिम्मत कैसे हुई मेरे घर में आने की, तुम छत से गिरे पानी की तरह हो जो घर में नहीं आ सकता"| मुझे यह सुनकर धक्का लगा | मुझे समझ नहीं आया कि मैं क्या कहूँ| मैं वहां एक मिनट तक जड़ खड़ा रहा| उसके बाद मैं बैठ गया और जब बात करने की स्थिति में आया तो मैंने अपने दोस्त से पूछा, "हेंता केन (क्या ऐसा है)?" तब उसने कहा, "हाँ, लोग क्या कहेंगे अगर तुम घर के भीतर आओगे तो, ये ठीक नहीं है"| इस दुर्घटना के बाद मैं न ढंग से सो सका, न खा सका और न ठीक से बात कर सका, मैं बहुत ही व्यथित और उदास हो गया था| इसके बाद मैंने अपने दोस्त के घर जाना बंद कर दिया | उस वक्त मुझे अस्पृश्यता उन्मूलन कानून [Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST)] के बारे में नहीं पता था कि कोई कानून ऐसा है जो अस्पृश्यता और छुआछूत के व्यवहार के खिलाफ है | दलितों को अगर इस कानून के बारे में जानकारी है, तब भी वे इन घृणित और अपमानजनक प्रथाओं के बारे में कुछ नहीं कर पाते है|

जितेन्द्र सुना के संबोधन का लिंक:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h3JdObYGUs

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Dr. Khatumal Jeewan on the Rise of Meghwars in local Politics of lower Sindh

 

Dr Khatumal Jeewan

dr khatumalDr Khatumal Jeewan (Khatu) is the most celebrated Dalit leader of Pakistan. He has been senator, four times MNA (Member of National Assembly)  and two times MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) on party ticket of Pakistan People's Party, between 1985 and 2013. This speech was delivered at a time when the Meghwar community had organized itself around the leadership of Dr Khatumal Jeewan. These were the times when Sodha Thakurs, the traditional upper caste Hindu heads of Thar region of Sindh had just stopped taunting and denigrating Meghwars and Bheels, and had started to reckon their vote bank. Although Dr Khatumal Jeewan and Eng. Giyanchand were elected on party tickets of the feudal-capitalist and casteist party (PPP), it was nevertheless the beginning of Dalit political assertion at a micro political level, and provided reasons for experiences of self-esteem. In the successive democratic governments that ensued after the end of the martial regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in late 1980s.

The speech was delivered in 1995-96 (the exact date is unconfirmed). Dr Khatumal Jeewan delivered this speech to the Meghwar community at a private wedding of the son of Arjan Das Meghwar held in the village Jhapyo, Mithi, Tharparkar Sindh. Dr Khatumal Jeewan was then MNA (1993-96), and Eng. Giyanchand Meghwar was MPA (1993-96). In this short speech, he reflects on the oppressed past, existing challenges to Dalit communities, about his own trust in Eng. Giyanchand (both Meghwars) about his commitment to the community and the need for trans-local Scheduled castes or a Dalit alliance. This speech gives the background to later Dalit politics in Pakistan up till now in 2017. It also shows the deep-seated desire to achieve self-respect and dignity in a society which is still wanting, and where Dalits continue to be discriminated and humiliated in various coarse and subtle ways.

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Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought

 

Anilkumar PV

Anilkumar pvThere is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the idealism of Hegel and placed it in the materiality of the productive relations of history. And, as we all know, he sharpened his ears for the siren calls of class struggle to make their mellifluence in the industrially advanced society of England. But, tragically, the Marxist notion of class as a self conscious entity performed its historic mission in the political frames of the east known by 'oriental despotism', which was accused to be represented by Mao and Lenin. In other words, what in reality the prophecy of Marxism did, in the guise of finding an agency which would be responsible for the annihilation of the liberal bourgeois political system of the industrialized countries, was to dig up an agency called 'peasants' in the backward economies of the east, which then was instrumental in transforming the productive relations of one despotic system into another despotic system with  different production relations.

Those who have read Mao's 1927 classic "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan" will remember the way in which Mao celebrates and glorifies peasant revolution: "the fact is that the broad peasant masses have risen to fulfill their historic mission, that the democratic forces in the rural areas have risen to overthrow the feudal power.....It is very good indeed. It is not a "mess" at all. It is anything but "an awful mess"." We have already seen the theoretical foundation of this glorification in a text written by Lenin in 1899, "The Development of Capitalism." In this work, even after recognizing the industrial and political backwardness of Russia when compared to Western Europe, he still maintains that Russia was a capitalist economy.

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"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media

 

Rakesh Ram S

Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played small roles, but the many strong characters that he did in recent times have given him a large fan following. His acting in the movie Kammatipadam for the role of Ganga received widespread applause from the audience.

vinayakan 5

There had been protests in social media when different movie awards given by television channels in Kerala did not consider him for the best actor award. So when the Kerala State Award for the best actor was announced for Vinayakan it was widely celebrated by the people. This is the transcript of Vinayakan's interaction with the press after winning the Kerala State Award for best male actor for the movie Kammatipadam on 9th March 2017. It was translated by Rakesh Ram S. The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7BivI68lZ8&feature=share

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Namaskaram to all. For me, receiving the film award for last year, felt like after some time the award left my hands and became a part of the people, I saw such a thing happening. I am not sure about what happened, and why it came like a protest. But since the day Kammatipadam was released, people have been talking about this, and while it was going on what I understood is that behind it there is some kind of protest, and I am of the opinion that it was neither me nor the film. We need to understand this in future and we shouldn't let it be a revolt and even if it comes out as a revolt it should be a good result. Other than that I can talk more if you ask me questions.

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Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement

 

Round Table India

In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF.

dr manisha bangar

In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide spectrum of current issues, and the Mulnivasi Bahujan perspective on them. She explicates the conceptual underpinnings of the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement, traces the history of the movement and its rapid expansion in the last few decades. She also offers a robust critique of mainstream feminism, savarna media narratives and Brahmanwadi discourses.  

The interview was conducted by Kuffir, and produced by Amarnath Sandipamu. It was recorded on 25 November, 2016.

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Institutional Discrimination in Academic Agrahara

 

Bansidhar Deep

bansidhar deep 1"When equality is denied everything is denied. There is no equality in M.Phil/Ph.D admission, there is no equality in viva-voce, there is only denial of equality, denying prof. SukhadeoThorat recommendation, denying students protest places in Ad-block, denying the education of the marginals."~ Muthukrishnan's (Rajni Krish) last FB post.

Caste system in India is one of the curses for Dalit and other marginalised groups or communities. After the death of Ashoka the great, socio-political conditions of non-marginalised communities gradually became marginalised and the Brahminical domination started over them. And that was the period of Buddhism's decline in India. To dominate the egalitarian people, the Brahmins established two anti-social institutions: Caste and Patriarchy. Therefore, without the background of these institutions we would not be able to understand anything about Indian society and the polity of this country. Within the scope of this paradigm the whole situation of the lower castes became worse in terms of their education, social position, economic condition, political participation and decision making within their community and outside of it. These conditions continue till today with slight changes. But fortunately, the modern liberal education introduced by British, makes Dalits  conscious for their rights and dignity, to some extent.

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The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU

 

Jitendra Suna

Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish)

jitendra sunaI am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named Pourkela in the District Kalahandi, Orissa. I completed my high school from B. R. Ambedkar Uchhavidyapitha Pourkela, but never really knew who Dr. Ambedkar was. When I was in 8th standard I lost my mother, she was the head of our family. My mother wanted to send us to a science school but she died and my family did not have enough money to send us to a science school. After completing my plus two (higher secondary) I came to Delhi for earning some money. I used to go to work with my brother. He was working in IGL (Indraprastha Gas Limited) as a helper, I also joined as helper. There was one fellow worker, I am unable to remember his name now, but his last name was Murari. He always used to ask my brother, 'what is the meaning of Suna'? My brother always tried to divert the issue and never mentioned his surname and caste. I saw this uneasiness throughout my stay in Delhi. After working for one year, I went back to my village and took admission for a BA degree.

Untouchability and caste practices are like a barbarous phenomena in my village as well as throughout Orissa. In my childhood I used to have a close friend who was from my village. I used to invite him to my home on special occasions and ask him to have food with us at my home. He would eat only after we requested him many times. Whenever I used to go to his home, I would be given some food outside the home, not even in the veranda. After having food I used to wash the utensils and give them back. This was because I was from a Dalit community. It was a day-to-day phenomenon; it was the 'commonsense' of our life. I could not think that it was wrong or right, because I have seen it since I was born. One day when talking to my friend I went near to the door, his mother suddenly got furious when she saw that I had touched the door. She suddenly shouted at me saying, "how dare you come inside my home, you are like fallen water of roof that cannot enter inside the room". I was shocked. I was not able to think what to say at that moment. I stood there like a statue for a minute. I sat down and after few minutes I was able to talk and asked my friend, "henta ken (is it so)?" Then he said 'yes, what will people say if you will come inside the room, it's not good'. After that incident I was not able to sleep, eat and talk properly, I was totally disturbed and depressed. I stopped going to his home. That time I did not know that there is an act called Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act or an act against the practice of untouchability. Even when Dalits knew about these acts, they could not do anything about those abhorrent, heinous, and degrading practices.

Link of the speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h3JdObYGUs

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I am someone who thinks in an Ayyankali thought: Vinayakan, best actor

 

Dwija Aami and Sreerag Poickadan

Malayalam actor Vinayakan has received the Kerala State government's Best Actor Award 2016 for the Malayalee film Kammatpadam, recently. His interview by Jimmy James in Asianet News television channel for the programme 'Point Blank' on March 13, 2017, became viral on social media owing to his bold answers, straightforwardness and the assertion of his 'Pulaya' identity. 

vinayakan 1a

In the movie, he plays Ganga, a representative of the erased off native communities like the Pulayas, a marginalized caste of Cochin, Kerala, who were pushed out from the margins of the city as it was being built. There was certain criticism raised against the 'Uppered caste' gaze of the movie. However, Vinayakan's character has made a strong impact, which even led to a public campaign for him to get the award. The interview was transcribed by Dwija Aami and Sreerag Poickadan for Round Table India.  

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zk1MUQiQUAg

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Interviewer: People wished that this person should get the award, they  demanded that this award should only go to that particular someone and at last, the award committee's decision also favoured the people's wish. I am talking about this year's Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor. This time we have Vinayakan with us in Point Blank, who has won the state's best actor award. Welcome.

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Indian Academia and Institutional Injustice

 

B. Prabakaran

b prabakaranJNU has been celebrated for critical thinking, political activism and regarded as one of the premier institutions for higher education and excellence in research. Students also strongly believe that campuses like JNU would be a 'cultural mechanism' for interactions within the student community coming from diverse social groups, and a resourceful platform for academic learning. For some months now JNU had been in the headlines for voicing 'anti-national slogans' by students of left wing organizations. This time the campus turns out to be a boiling pot for a nationwide debate on the institutional murder of a poor, first generation dalit student, Muthukrishnan of Tamil Nadu.

Muthukrishnan, according to his friend's testimony, died unnaturally as well as suspiciously. Media reports suggests he was forced to commit suicide at his friend's room in Delhi, in a depressive state of mind as a consequence of discriminatory attitudes in the campus while pursuing research. Muthukrishnan was an active member of Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA) and raised his voice against Rohith Vemula's social death and other related issues at Hyderabad Central University. He had been a hard working learner who considered education as a tool for social change. He, therefore, repeatedly attempted to get an admission at JNU from his days of doing masters. He never gave up the struggle to join JNU since it was one of his cherished dreams. Eventually he reached there happily.

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ಎರಡು ಸಾಂಸ್ಥಿಕ ಹತ್ಯೆಗಳ ನಡುವೆ..!

 

ಮಂಜುನಾಥ ನರಗುಂದ (Manjunath Naragund)

manjunath naragundಕಾರ್ಲ್ ಮಾರ್ಕ್ಸ್ ನ "History repeats itself. First as tragedy, second as farce" ಎನ್ನುವ ಮಾತು ಸದ್ಯ ರೋಹಿತ್ ವೇಮುಲಾ ಮತ್ತು ರಜಿನಿ ಕ್ರಿಷ್ ಅವರ ಸಾಂಸ್ಥಿಕ ಹತ್ಯೆಗಳ ಚಿತ್ರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಅನ್ವಯಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.
ಇವರಿಬ್ಬರ ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆಗಳಿಗೂ ಮುನ್ನ ಇಂತಹವೇ ಹಲವು ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆಗಳು ವಿವಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆದಾಗಲೂ ಅವು ಸೀಮಿತ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನೊಳಗೆ ಬಂಧಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದವು. ಆದರೆ, ರೋಹಿತನ ಸಾಂಸ್ಥಿಕ ಹತ್ಯೆ ಎಲ್ಲ ಸೀಮಿತ ಸಂಕೋಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ಕಿತ್ತು ತನ್ನ ಒಳಸಂಕಟದ ಬೇಗುದಿಗಳನ್ನು ಜಗದಗಲ ತೆರೆದಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದು ಈಗ ಇತಿಹಾಸ. ಈ ಇತಿಹಾಸ ಇಂದು ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯ ದುರಂತದ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿದೆ. ಈ ದುರಂತದ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಮುಂದುವರೆದ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿ ಇಂದು ರಜಿನಿ ಕ್ರಿಶ್ ನ ಸಾಂಸ್ಥಿಕ ಕೊಲೆ ಘಟಿಸಿದೆ. ಇಂತಹ ಶೋಷಿತ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳ ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆಗಳು ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯನ್ನು ಅಣಕಿಸುವುದರ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿ ನಮಗೆ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿವೆ. ರೋಹಿತ್, ರಜನಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ಹತ್ತಿರದಿಂದ ಕಂಡವರಿಗೆ ಅವರ ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆಗಳು ಹಾಗೂ ಅವುಗಳ ಕಾರಣಗಳೂ ನಿಜಕ್ಕೂ ದಿಗಿಲೂ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸುತ್ತಿವೆ.
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ರಜನಿ ಕ್ರಿಷ್....
ನಾನು ಯಾವಾಗಲೂ ಅವನನ್ನು ನೋಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದದ್ದೂ ಹೆಗಲಿಗೆ ಖಾದಿ ಬ್ಯಾಗ್ ತೊಟ್ಟು ಸಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ರಭಸದ ನಡಿಗೆ, ಹೈದರಾಬಾದ್ ಕೇಂದ್ರೀಯ ವಿವಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನನ್ನ ಬ್ಯಾಚಮೇಟ್ ಆಗಿದ್ದ ಅವನು ಇತಿಹಾಸ ವಿಭಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಧ್ಯನ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಓಡಿಸ್ಸಾದ ನನ್ನ ರೂಮೆಟ್ ರಾಜಕುಮಾರ್ ದೀಪ್ ನ ಕ್ಲಾಸ್ ಮೇಟ್. ಕ್ಯಾಪಂಸನಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿಕ್ಕಾಗಲೆಲ್ಲ ಸದಾ ನಗುಮುಖದಿಂದಲೇ ಮಾತನಾಡಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಅವನ ರೀತಿ, ಕ್ಯಾಂಪಸ್ ನ ಪ್ರತಿ ಹೋರಾಟಗಳಲ್ಲೂ, ಅದರಲ್ಲೂ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರೈಟ್ ವಿಚಾರದ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಅವನ ಹಾಜರಿ, ನನಗೆ ಈಗಲೂ ಕಣ್ಣು ಕಟ್ಟಿದಂತಿದೆ.

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