Monday, December 21, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Dalit activist Arun Kamble may have drowned

Monday, December 21, 2009 2:02:00 AM

Dalit activist Arun Kamble may have drowned


Arun Kamble, leading Dalit activist and professor of Marathi at Mumbai
University, who was missing for almost a week, is suspected to have
drowned in Hyderabad's Hussain Sagar lake.

Kamble, 55, had reached Hyderabad on December 12 to participate in a
seminar at the BM Birla Science Centre. He was staying at a lodge at
Lakdi Ka Pul. After participating in the seminar on December 13,
Kamble returned to the lodge. He later went out in the wee hours and
wasn't seen since.

On Sunday, the Hyderabad police recovered a decomposed corpse,
believed to be that of the professor, from Hussain Sagar. "The face is
completely decomposed and beyond recognition," an officer
investigating the matter said. "We have called Kamble's family members
to Hyderabad to identify the body."

According to the police, the watchman of the lodge had seen Kamble
going out. The seminar organisers did not realise until much later
that the professor was missing. They then filed a missing complaint.
"That complaint is still being investigated," the officer said. "Prima
facie it looks like the body that was fished out on Sunday is of the

The police said Kamble's son is on his way to Hyderabad. "By Monday
afternoon we will be able to confirm the identity of the body," the
officer said.

A thorough academician, Kamble was known for his study of Ambedkar. He
had written several books and poems, among them Ramayan Sanskrutik
Sangharsh, Dharmantarachi Bheemgarjana, and Chalvaliche Diwas. He had
also translated works of other authors.

News of his suspected death in a mysterious manner came as a major
shock to his friends in socio-political circles. Along with poet
Namdeo Dhasal, Kamble was a founder of the militant Dalit Panther
organisation. Later, he became a general secretary of the Janata Dal
and worked with prime minister VP Singh. Kamble was also in the
forefront of the agitation demanding the renaming of Marathwada
University as Ambedkar University.

Noted Dalit writer Arjun Dangle said, "It's a big loss as he was a
committed Ambedkarite. His contribution in academics and Dalit
agitations was immense. His sudden death is a shock to me."

Said Tusshar Jagtap, "He was a brilliant academician and champion of
the Dalit cause. He told me how he wanted to donate some rare books on
Ambedkar to the university. I am deeply shocked to hear the news."

A close aide of Kamble revealed that the professor had been
complaining of ill heath for a while. At the seminar in Hyderabad he
was supposed to deliver an hour's lecture on Ambedkar's philosophy.
But he spoke for just five minutes and returned to the lodge,
complaining of uneasiness and asking to be left alone.

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