Published: 10th October 2019
After one month in hiding, Dalit Allahabad University professor asks for security cover to return to campus
The professor went into hiding a month ago after receiving death threats but during that time, people have taken to social media to bully, abuse and make casteist slurs against him
About a month ago, Allahabad University professor Vikram Harijan had to flee the campus out of fear of being mob lynched. He had been receiving threats ever since a video of him debating at a seminar on superstition and blind faith went viral on campus. On October 14, the professor will be returning to work at the University but is requesting the administration to provide him with some sort of security cover.
Over the last month, Harijan has been taunted, bullied, abused and threatened on social media. People have called for him to be 'wiped out' and accused of using his 'Dalit card' and also being called casteist names and harassed for his caste.
The trouble started when a student of Vikram's had uploaded a video of the professor speaking at an event recalling an incident that occurred when he was in the sixth standard. In the speech, he made arguments that "promoted rationality and scientific temperament by questioning superstition and blind faith". but clarified that he meant to show no disrespect to any religion. Vikram believed that the student uploaded the video to take 'revenge' on him for refusing to write his PhD thesis for him.
Soon after the video began to go viral, some students and people outside campus began to threaten Vikram, claiming he would be lynched. He has issued a statement saying he apologised for what he had said at the seminar and has pleaded for forgiveness but the taunts and bullying has continued. The professor was also targeted because he had organised seminars on campus with themes like the annihilation of caste, which allegedly ticked off people on campus as well. Vikram's student and others also took to Facebook to taunt the professor. After police complaints and complaints to the administration failed to get him any help, Vikram had no other choice but to flee the campus fearing for his life.
Finally, the administration itself issued him a show-cause notice for his comments in the video. Vikram wasn't able to respond to the notice, so he spoke to the Registrar over the phone and submitted his statement. "But they have not gotten back to me. I have not heard from them since the show cause notice was issued," Vikram said.
In the last month, Vikram said that even though he is not on campus, he has continuously been getting harassed on Facebook by some students. "People tell me things like if I return to campus, then I will be lynched. That they will cut my body into little pieces and throw them in areas where they will never be found. People are saying things like this to me on social media," Vikram said.
The abuse on Facebook ranges from casteist name-calling to direct death threats. Some accuse him of 'hiding behind Ambedkar by using the Dalit card', others said things like, 'his surname explains everything', 'all because of reservations', 'they should be wiped out', 'make him eat sh*t and urinate on him', 'he deserves a dog's death'.
Vikram told us that he has written 11 separate mails to police officials and other authorities but hasn't heard back from anyone. "All I want is for fair representation, if I've said something wrong then let a suitable procedure take place. Why am I being abused like this?" he asks. After staying in hiding for a month, Vikram feels it is time for him to return to campus but he continues to fear for his life. "I have requested the administration to provide me with at least some security while I am there, I hope they accept my request," the professor said.