The 2016 Irom Sharmila Scholarship was jointly awarded to Rohit Vemula (posthumously) of the Ambedkar Studies Association, Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union yesterday.
The cheques for scholarship was received by the Joint Action Committee on behalf of Vemula and JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on behalf of the students’ body.
According to Ajay Patnaik, JNUTA president, who handed over the scholarships, “the award goes to them as student representatives/ bodies seeking to strengthen India’s constitutional democracy by upholding the constitutional ideals of fraternity, equality and right to life, and inspiring many others across the country.”
The Irom Sharmila Scholarship was instituted by a faculty from Delhi University in 2012. Professor Nandini Sundar, Faculty of Social Science, DU has set up the scholarship. It is open to any post graduate student (MA-Phd) enrolled in any educational institution in Delhi in any subject who comes from an area with internal armed conflict, including Northeast, Kashmir and Central India.
The award is based on a combination of financial need, academic merit, contribution to society and suffering as a result of armed conflict. The scholarship is a lump sum of Rs. 50,000 (Rs 60,000 if shared).
Sharmila also extended her solidarity via a video message that was played on the occasion where she said, “I think building a university is just like a temple for young minds. So why should government or concerned authority restrict their thoughts and debates? I extend my solidarity to students’ democratic, progressive movements and voice of dissent in university campuses to justice for Rohith Vemula and other student.”
A 22-year-old Kashmiri student became the first person to receive the scholarship in 2013. Iymon Majeed, a student of MA political science from Jamia Millia Islamia has been writing about experience of Kashmir with Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 and militarism for various publications.