Expressing solidarity to the Bharat Bandh call by several tribal organizations, the Rajiv Gandhi University Students Union (RGUSU), RGU Research Scholars’ Forum (RGURSF) and RGU Teachers Association (RGUTA) of Arunachal Pradesh observed total campus shutdown from dawn to dusk at Rono Hills in Itanagar on Tuesday.
The Bharat Bandh was called on Tuesday by several tribal outfits from across the country to protest the displacement of 10 lakh tribals from their lands and University Grants Commission’s new 13-point roster system that will cut jobs for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs.
The teachers and students demanded that the Central Government promulgate two ordinances to secure tribal rights that have been affected by the Supreme Court decisions. One to secure the forest rights of tribals, and the second to ensure fair representation in UGC faculty posts.
The call for nationwide strike came after a recent Supreme Court decision to carry out eviction of tribals and forest dwellers, whose claims over forest land were declined under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
RGUTA president Professor Jumyir Basar termed the SC decisions as a form of marginalization on already marginalized community.
“We are being deprived of our rights, good governance and justice because the Centre doesn’t care to pay attention to the voice of the minority eight per cent community of the country’s population,” Prof Basar said.
Speaking on the 13-point roster system, she said the new system replaces the 200-point roster system, in which the entire university was taken as a unit for reservation and recruitment.
Under the new 13-point roster system, each department is taken as a unit for implementing recruitment and reservation policy for teachers.
Given the 13-point roster system, our coming generations won’t be able to teach in universities and will be deprived of equal competition, she said.
MSW assistant professor John Gangmei said the recent judgement has made tribal people dwelling in forests encroachers of their own land. India’s thin tribal population is facing annihilation, he said.
“Centre is mooting to eliminate all tribal indigenous people,” Gangmei added.
“We are asking for our rights which we deserve in line with the principle of affirmative action prescribed in the constitution. The SC is hell bent upon scrapping reservation for marginalized communities,” Dr Suman Prakash Prasad of Education department said.
RGURSF chairman Margum Ado termed the 13-point roster ‘draconian’ and called for its removal.
RGUSU president Goda Karu said there is no point in studying further if our rights are curtailed.
RGUSU general secretary, Barik Riba advised the students to be pro-active not only in studies but in fighting for their rights as well.
Bharat Bandh was also supported by several groups and political parties from across nation who are opposing SC’s recent dismissal of review petition on 13-point roster.