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Raja Vemula: Saving Democracy is saving the spirit and message of Ambedkar


Raja Vemula speaks at the event Save Reservation, Save Democracy organised by Bahujana Vidhyardhi Sangh (BVS) as part of their 15th anniversary celebration in Freedom Park, Bangalore on 04th Mar 2017.

It is an honor for me to be invited to speak to you and participate in this Save Democracy campaign. I know BVS is one of the biggest student organizations in the country. You have also organized some of the biggest protests, agitations, and solidarity programs for the social justice for Rohith Vemula movement. I am grateful to you, so is my mother.

As we know, what is threatened today is Democracy itself.
I am not a Marxist or scientist or an experienced activist like my brother Rohith. He thought about the whole world and died fighting against the persecution of Muslims.

Ever since my brother laid down his life for the cause of unity and cooperation of all victims of Hinduism, I took a pledge to not take any job but dedicate to the Dalit movement. Today’s Dalit movement is the leader of a new thing: the mutual protection and cooperation of all victims of Hindu Nazists. But the Hindutva government is not allowing me and my mother to focus on any issue. However much the Hindu fascists try, I and my mother will follow my brother’s ideals and goals and be with the Dalit movement anywhere in the world. They are persecuting me and my mother and slandering us continuously.

What I say now is my understanding of what my brother would have said. I may not succeed in matching his depth of knowledge and breadth of vision. I will try.

What do we mean by saving Democracy?

My brother is a Marxist but left the organizations and joined Ambedkar Students Association. Why? There are two reasons. Leftist organizations don’t have democracy and don’t fight for democracy. Real Socialism can be achieved only by lower castes, Dalits, Adivasis and the mobilization of the oppressed religions like Muslims, Buddhist, Sikhs and the occupied nationalities like the peoples of Nagaland, Kashmir, and Manipur etc.

Hindus want Socialism without equality. It is a Socialism for Upper Caste Hindus. We Dalits and Muslims need a different kind of Socialism and Democracy. It is Babasaheb’s political and civilisational vision.

Fighting for others is in our history of Dalits and Dalit movements. We want justice for everyone not just for ourselves.

What is the nature of Democracy we want to save from the attacks, abuses, and perversions of it in the hands of Ruling BJP and Sangh Parivar terrorism? Is democracy a mere principle, rule of law, procedure, separation of powers, free elections, protection of minority rights and nothing else? In other words, Democracy is about the state, government, politics? Or, is it about society?

It is here Babasaheb’s vision guided my brother Rohith. His vision can guide us. Our constitution and state are democratic. Our Hindu society is barbaric. Ambedkar understood this. Upper Caste leftists are unwilling to accept this. Babasaheb thought the democratic and progressive Constitution and rule of law would reform, humanize, improve Hindu society.  It did not happen as fast as it should. Never fully, deeply and honestly enough. But there was some progress. Due to the protection of Atrocity act and the right to Reservations. And, the glorious struggles and efforts of Dalit movements everywhere.

Now, after BJP started dominating Indian politics, Hindu society started fighting back. Instead of Constitution reforming an unequal and inhumane society, the barbaric society is now corrupting the Constitutional values, democratic procedure, rule of law, minority rights now. This is the true nature of Sangh Parivar rule.

My brother did not understand it first. But when he understood it through Babasaheb and scientific literature, he took the lesson seriously. If we want equality, we must have freedom first. Hinduism is against equality. Hindu leftists are against freedom. It is on freedom the present Hindutva government is waging a war. My brother Rohith was a fallen soldier in this battle. He didn’t die for his rights. He fought against the harassment, illegal detentions, false cases, unfair punishments against Muslims.

Babasaheb has done more than anything for the rights of women, even uppercaste women. We Dalits fought for the reservations for OBCs. We must fight for the protection of Muslims and Christians. Fighting for others is in our history of Dalits and Dalit movements. We want justice for everyone not just for ourselves. That’s why the movement for justice for Rohith Vemula called itself ‘Social Justice’ for Rohith Vemula.

Saving Democracy is saving victims of Hindutva, saving the opponents of Hindutva Nazis, saving Democracy is saving the spirit and message of Ambedkar and his disciple Rohith Vemula.

Jai Bhim!

Raja Vemula, brother of Rohith Vemula – fighting along side with his mother Radhika Vemula for Justice of Rohith.

Video: Nidhin Sowjanya, Transcription: Raja Vemula