University of Oxford expresses concern over rising caste, gender-based violence in India

TCN News

The students, faculty, staff and alumni of the prestigious University of Oxford have expressed grave concerns against the rising caste and gender-based violence in India.

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Calling the incident “particularly horrifying” and “another heinous manifestation of systemic sexual violence and caste-based atrocities in India,” the letter has “wholly condemned” the mishandling of the case. The university community has further accused the UP Police and state government of abusing and harassing the victim’s family, stating that the authorities have been dealing with the case with “absolute apathy and repression.”

The letter said that the police acted in an “abhorrent and hasty manner” by cremating the victim’s body in the dead of the night against her family’s wishes. It resonated that locking the entire village, restricting the movement of the media, civil society and the political opposition, “are all hallmarks of an authoritarian and casteist regime” that are “antithetical to the democratic and constitutional ideals” of the country. All of this, it said, indicates, “a sinister design to destroy evidence while violating the dignity of the victim even in her death.”

The students and faculty of University of Oxford have also opposed UP police’s repeated assertions that there is no evidence of rape despite a pending investigation, indicating that it “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, the letter says, it strongly believes 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.”

Acknowledging that “atrocities against Dalits and marginalized communities in India are not new,” the letter has expressed alarm at the recent surge in such incidents, therefore reminding the Indian government “to fulfil its constitutional and moral duty to fight against the oppressive systems of caste and patriarchy.”

Expressing “deep anguish at the structures of the UP government perpetuating caste oppression and gender-based violence,” the university community have voiced their “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. Further, as privileged members of the University of Oxford, the community has pledged to be “allies in the struggle for annihilation of such privileges.”