University of Oxford students and teachers release statement condemning police and govt conduct in Hathras incident

University of Oxford students with placards
University of Oxford students holding placards that make the slogan #DalitLivesMatter

The students, staff and alumni of the University of Oxford have released a statement in the wake of the Hathras gang rape case expressing concern over the “rising cases of caste and gender-based violence in India” and condemning the “absolute apathy and repression with which the government has been dealing with them.”

“We wholly condemn the repressive manner in which police and government authorities in UP have been conducting themselves in the past few weeks. Particularly, abusing and harassing the victim’s family, locking up an entire village, and restricting movement of the media, civil society and the political opposition, are all hallmarks of an authoritarian and casteist regime and antithetical to the democratic and constitutional ideals that India was founded on,” the statement says.

The statement has been signed by student activists Sameer Rashid Bhat, Shireen Azam, Gurmehar Kaur and Nikita Azad, and academics Barbara Harriss-White, Yan Chen, Nayanika Mathur, Nikita Sud and Sneha Krishnan.

Read the full statement below.

We, the undersigned students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of Oxford, are deeply concerned by the rising cases of caste and gender-based violence in India and condemn the absolute apathy and repression with which the government has been dealing with them.

We are particularly horrified by the Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh (UP), which is yet another heinous manifestation of systemic sexual violence and caste-based atrocities in India. We wholly condemn the repressive manner in which police and government authorities in UP have been conducting themselves in the past few weeks. Particularly, abusing and harassing the victim’s family, locking up an entire village, and restricting movement of the media, civil society and the political opposition, are all hallmarks of an authoritarian and casteist regime and antithetical to the democratic and constitutional ideals that India was founded on.

The abhorrent and hasty manner in which the UP police and administration cremated the Hathras victim in the dead of the night, against the wishes of the family, indicates a sinister design to destroy evidence while violating the dignity of the victim even in her death. The UP police’s repeated assertions that there is no evidence of rape despite a pending investigation not only betrays a premeditated attitude, but also a severe lack of understanding of the law on sexual offences and the duties of the police. Considering the current political climate and developments surrounding the Hathras case, we strongly believe that the UP government’s moves of setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and transferring the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are merely tokenistic and only stand to shield the upper-caste perpetrators of the crime.

We recognize that the commission of atrocities against Dalits and marginalized communities in India is not new. But the recent surge in such incidents, we firmly believe, acts as a clarion call for Indians everywhere and particularly the Indian government to fulfil its constitutional and moral duty to fight against the oppressive systems of caste and patriarchy.

As we watch, with extreme concern and deep anguish, structures of the UP government perpetuating caste oppression and gender-based violence, we lend our unconditional support and solidarity to the victim’s family, and Dalit and women’s organizations in India leading the fight against the intersecting systems of caste and patriarchy. We acknowledge our privilege as members of the University of Oxford, which for many of us also intersects with our privilege as upper-caste, upper-class and/or male members of society, and pledge to be allies in the struggle for annihilation of such privileges.

Signatories:

  1. Sameer Rashid Bhat
  2. Anish Gawande
  3. Gayathree Devi KT
  4. Kavya Chowdhry
  5. Deepa Kurup
  6. Gayatri Sahgal
  7. Oxford South Asian Society
  8. Gurmehar Kaur
  9. Udit Bhatia
  10. Harnoor Kaur
  11. Garima Rana
  12. Simren Sekhon
  13. Akash Verma
  14. Saumya Pandey
  15. Shireen Azam
  16. Sahreen Shamim
  17. Sneha Krishnan
  18. Niranjan Suresh
  19. Apoorva Kulkarni
  20. Kushal Sohal
  21. Ayushi Agarwal
  22. Divya Godbole 
  23. Nurul Ezzaty Binti Hasbullah 
  24. Barbara Harriss-White 
  25. Amrita Shenoy 
  26. Sara Rotenberg
  27. Sana Naeem
  28. Azania Imtiaz Patel
  29. Iqbal Singh Bhalla
  30. Chaitanya Kediyal
  31. Tanvi Rai
  32. Nainika Dinesh
  33. Yan Chen
  34. Nayanika Mathur
  35. Nikita Sud
  36. Lavanya Singh
  37. Anjali Viswamohanan
  38. Shruti Iyer
  39. Sanghamitra Mukherjee
  40. Rashmi Samant 
  41. G Pricd
  42. Bestin Samuel
  43. Sanya Samtani
  44. Tejas Harad
  45. Arunima Joshi 
  46. Clarisse Emond Larochelle 
  47. Nandita Venkatesan
  48. Pooja George
  49. Sakshi
  50. Archit Jain
  51. Sanjari Kalantri
  52. Anupama Ranawana
  53. Shreya U.K.
  54. Sara Boukhobza 
  55. Arianne Santoso
  56. Ben Graham
  57. Shireen Bhalla
  58. Akanksha Awal
  59. Aparna
  60. Aditya
  61. Vihanga Munasinghe
  62. Malhar Khushu
  63. Taylor Panzer
  64. Shahnawaz Ali Raihan
  65. Sunidhi Pasan
  66. Sebastian Vacas-Oleas
  67. Amogh Dhar Sharma
  68. Julie Durcan
  69. Abigail Branford
  70. Emilie McDonnell
  71. Lev Cosijns
  72. Arushi Garg
  73. Nicolette D’Angelo
  74. Jocelyn Alexander
  75. Aradhana CV
  76. Gauri Pillai
  77. Sumedha Choudhury
  78. Raghuveer Nath
  79. Naomi mburu
  80. Navoneel Sen
  81. Jaswanth Dadi
  82. Meenakshi Kesavankutty
  83. Ritu Kochar 
  84. Akbar Zaheer A N
  85. Devika 
  86. Majd Abdulghani
  87. Gaurav Dubey
  88. Caleb J Bartholomew
  89. Malvika Gupta
  90. Dr Martin Urschel
  91. Mihika Chatterjee
  92. Jason Brickhill
  93. Varun Mallik
  94. Sharan Gopal
  95. Sophie Ryan
  96. Saadia Gardezi
  97. Anvee Bhutani
  98. Mihir Rajamane
  99. Vihan Jain
  100. Dr. Indrajit Roy (York)
  101. Anandi Mani
  102. Zile Huma
  103. Jamie Phadke
  104. Judith Heyer
  105. Arunima Shrikhande
  106. Aman Sachan
  107. Krittika Chavaly
  108. Ajay Gupta
  109. Lucia Akard
  110. Aayushi Gupta
  111. Rishika Sahgal
  112. Minoli Wijetunga
  113. Srutokirti Basak
  114. Varsha Ramineni 
  115. Nikita Arora (Azad)
  116. Aruna Chandrasekhar
  117. Navoneel Sen
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