‘Casteist’ skit mocking Dalits: 7 students, dean & programme coordinator of Jain University arrested

Seven students and two staff members, booked under non-bailable SC and the ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, have been sent to custody.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 13, 2023 | 9:03 PM Updated Feb 13, 2023 | 9:19 PM

Jain University Bengaluru Dalit skit students arrested

Seven students pursuing their courses with the Centre of Management Studies (CMS) at the Jain Deemed-to-be University were arrested by the city police on Monday, 13 February.

Dean, Faculty of Management, and Director, Dr Dinesh Nilkant, and Programme Coordinator Prathik, too, have been arrested over a skit performed during a college fest that allegedly demeaned Dalits and Dr BR Ambedkar.

All the nine arrested were produced before a magistrate, who remanded them in custody.

All the accused have been booked under the non-bailable SC and the ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).

“Seven students, along with the Director Dinesh and the Programme Coordinator Prathik were arrested on Monday,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Jayanagar sub-division Srinivasa KV told South First.

“All nine persons have been produced before the court. Police are attempting to get police custody,” P Krishnakant, DCP South, told South First.

All nine were remanded in police custody for three days.

Also read: Dalit woman assaulted, 9-year-old daughter records video

Controversial skit and its aftermath

On Saturday, 11 February, the Bengaluru police registered a criminal case against the students after Dalit organisations registered protests on social media and by other means on the ground that the lines in the script were derogatory, casteist and demeaning to not just Dalits, but also Dr BR Ambedkar.

After an edited version of the video went viral on social media, the college management suspended the students on Friday evening. The same day, the students’ group, which had come under severe fire over the skit, posted an apology on their Instagram page.

The seven-minute skit was enacted during an event called ‘Mad Ads’ of ‘Samyog’, as part of the Jain University Youth Fest ’23, by the students’ contingent of the Centre of Management Studies. It referred to Dr BR Ambedkar in an offensive manner and took potshots at Dalits in the garb of humour.

A Dalit rights group from Maharashtra took note of the video and began an online petition condemning it.

An edited version of the skit that was part of the online petition had gone viral.

The Dalit rights group condemned the act and termed it as an insult to the entire community and also highlighted that it was a case of “casual casteism” against Dalits.

A Dalit rights activist from Mumbai, Aakshay Bansode, on Friday, 10 February, filed a complaint with the police in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Related: Water tanks, exclusive schemes: Othering of Dalits in Tamil Nadu

The viral video

“Beer Ambedkar”, “Why be a Dalit, when you can be The Lit”. These are some of the lines from the edited video of a skit performed by students that had gone viral.

However, the students who performed the skit had written on their Instagram handle: “The skit was aimed only to bring to attention the challenges faced by the marginalised communities, using humour as a tool to shed light on these hardships.”

The Instagram account has since been deleted.

“While our intention was to raise awareness and start a meaningful conversation, we understand that some individuals may have found the content to be misinterpreted or offensive and we sincerely apologize as this was not our aim or intention,” the group went on to say in the post.