The University Grants Commission has asked colleges to ensure that officials and faculty members do not engage in caste discrimination, PTI reported on Tuesday.

“The officials and faculty members should desist from any act of discrimination against SC [Scheduled Caste] and ST [Scheduled Tribe] students on grounds of their social origin,” University Grants Commission Secretary Rajnish Jain said in a letter to vice chancellors of all varsities and colleges.

Several incidents of caste discrimination in colleges and universities have been reported in the country. The death of Rohith Vemula, a PhD scholar at the Hyderabad Central University, in 2016 had brought the matter to the fore. Vemula had died by suicide allegedly due to caste discrimination on the campus.

In July this year, 36-year-old Vipin P Veetil had resigned as the assistant professor of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, citing alleged caste discrimination he had faced, reported The News Minute.

In May 2019, medical student Payal Tadvi had died by suicide after allegedly facing casteist abuse from three of her colleagues at the Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai. She was working there as a doctor.

The mothers of Vemula and Tadvi had moved the Supreme Court in 2019 seeking to end caste discrimination in universities and other higher education institutions.

In his letter, Jain sought information on complaints received against caste-based discrimination during 2020-’21 and the action taken by the universities took to address them.

He suggested that universities may constitute a committee to look into discrimination complaints received from students, faculty members and the non-teaching staff belonging to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribe and the Other Backward Classes.

“The university, institute or college may develop a page on their website for lodging such complaints of caste discrimination by SC and ST students and also place a complaint register in the registrar and principal office for the purpose,” Jain said. “If any such incident comes to the notice of the authorities, action should be taken against the erring official and faculty members.”

He also advised officials and faculty members to be more sensitive while dealing with cases of caste discrimination.

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