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Five Dalit students convicted of defamation, get 6 months in jail

“Considering the economic and family backgrounds of the accused, this court is of the view that it is not a fit case to impose any fine,’’ the court said.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
December 14, 2016 5:10:22 am

A court on Tuesday sentenced five Dalit students from the English and Foreign Languages University here to six-month imprisonment for defamation. Fourth Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate granted the five — Munavath Sriramulu, Bathran Ravichandran, Mohan Dharavath, M Upender and N Satish — bail and gave them one month to appeal. They will have to pay Rs 5,000 each as surety within seven days.

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“Considering the economic and family backgrounds of the accused, this court is of the view that it is not a fit case to impose any fine,’’ the court said.

Germanic Studies department head and Dean Meenakshi Reddy had filed the defamation case against the five in March 2013 after they posted videos, blogs and messages on social networking sites accusing her of making casteist remarks against Dalits. Sriramulu had accused Reddy of failing him and denying him remedial classes after he fell sick.

The students had called Reddy “Hitler’s daughter” and warned her to “change your attitude or face the music’’ in videos uploaded on social networking sites through Dalit Camera. They accused her of targeting Dalit students and deliberately failing them to force them to quit.

Reddy said she filed the case as she was unable to bear the harassment from the five students. “Only Sriramulu was my student but the four others joined and ganged up against me making all kinds of wild allegations,” she said. “After the first semester, Sriramulu failed in all the other semesters and when he could not pass, he started making allegations against me. I faced so much harassment from them.”

Sriramulu had joined the Germanic Studies department in July 2010 as a five-year integrated course student after getting a UGC Junior Research Scholarship.

He alleged that he started facing problems after he failed in the second semester.

Sriramulu and the others accused Reddy of telling Dalit students to go back to their villages and “remove dead skin and make chappals, wash clothes or work in fields”. He alleged that Reddy deliberately changed rules so that she could fail students.

“Students were graded according to the nine-point scale with E grade being lowest, which allowed them to be promoted to the next semester even if they have backlogs. Prof Meenakshi changed the rules three times and removed the E grade which allowed her to fail students,’’ Sriramulu alleged.

In August 2013, Sriramulu filed a case under SC/ST Atrocities Act against Reddy.

It came to light during the cross examination in the court that Reddy was Srirumulu’s teacher only in the first semester. Sriramulu failed to clear the second, third and fourth semesters and was not allowed to sit for exams for the sixth semester due to eight backlogs.

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