Non-Dalit don’t think of Dalit’s experiences: Shyam Benegal

“In India, if you happen to be a caste Hindu, you really don’t understand the pain of the person who comes from the Dalit community”, says Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express in Mumbai.

Shyam Benegal shared his word on Wednesday, while speaking about the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a second year Ph.D student at University of Hyderabad.

It is to be noted that, Rohith Vemula hung himself with a banner of his union on Sunday, two weeks after he and four other students were suspended and banned from the hostel, the cafeteria and other common areas for allegedly beating an activist of a rival student union in August. The five students had been living outside the campus in a tent.

The suicide has set off a political row with students and the opposition alleging that he was subjected to caste discrimination.

In fact, that’s one of the problems is that Non-Dalits don’t worry about the Dalit existence and their problems in India.

“It’s as if the Dalits are not humans and their pain and experience is only related to Dalits, Upper caste don’t Hindus dont worry about their issues. It’s not that way at all. They are a part of everything and they happen to be at the bottom of the pile”, said Benegal.

When asked if the government was looking at students as political opposition, given the ongoing crisis at FTII and the suspension of Vemula and his fellow students, Benegal said he didn’t believe there was any movement in that direction and that the line taken by the government on both issues was just co-incidence.