When BHU’s calm was shattered

Students have either left for their home towns or have taken shelter at their local friends’ homes

swati

Swati Chandra | September 25, 2017 | New Delhi


#violence   #Narendra Modi   #protest   #BHU   #Education  
Photo courtesy: BHU
Photo courtesy: BHU

The campus of the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which completed its 100 years less than a year ago, has turned into a curfew town following an alleged sexual harassment of an undergraduate student. Unhindered discussions in the art faculty, creative endeavours in visual and performing arts and research work at science, genetics and mathematics laboratories were stalled.

The 1,300 acres of lush green campus, which is the only respite in an otherwise chaotic Varanasi, witnessed lathicharge, hurling of petrol bombs and stone pelting. The Durga Puja break that was going to start from September 28 was pre-poned and would now commence from Monday itself. Students who hail from Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and other far-off places either caught buses and trains to go to their homes or found shelter at their local friends’ homes.

Victim shaming and university administration
On September 21 at 6 pm, an undergraduate student residing in Triveni hostel was walking past the Bharat Kala Bhawan, an iconic museum in the campus which is visited by hundreds of tourists almost daily. A group of goons – not clear if outsiders or university students – accosted her. She alleged that the men passed comments and one of them even molested her. University security guards were standing only a few metres away.
 
The girl yelled for help. The guards, however, did not intervene. In fact, one of them commented, “Will you wait to get raped? Just run.” The girl allegedly didn’t get a satisfactory response from her hostel warden. In fact, the warden blamed her for walking alone in the evening.
 
Students of the university alleged that when the girl and her friends tried to contact the chief proctor of the university the next day, he said he was busy preparing for the prime ministers’ visit of the city. PM Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to Varanasi.
 
When the university administration failed to help the girl, she and her friends staged a peaceful protest on September 22 and September 23, demanding action against the accused. They demanded more security facilities in the campus, incluiding more CCTV cameras, more security guards and street lights. 
 
According to students, a lot of politically inclined students groups tried to join the protest. However, the protesting students did not allow them to join their campaign as they did not want it to be politicised.
 
On Saturday night, protesting students followed vice chancellor Prof GC Tripathi and were stopped by the security guards outside his official residence. Some students who became part of the protesting crowd, attacked the VC lodge and soon violence broke out. A number of students, including some girls, and journalists were injured in the lathicharge by university security guards. The mob of students threw petrol bombs and pelted stones at journalists and security guards. Soon thereafter, male students who are believed to have initiated the violence were thrashed at their hostels. 
 
Suddenly, there was a ‘report’ that the protesting students has insulted the BHU founder, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, by destroying his bust on the university main gates. However, it turned out to be rumour. [Here’s a Facebook post by a professor explaining it.]
 
A video showing policemen charging towards women went viral. A policeman can be seen pushing the woman, who falls to the ground. Two other cops then begin to hit her with batons.
 
Congress leader Raj Babbar, PL Punia, Ajay Rai reached BHU. Babbar was detained by the police. This added political hue to the entire episode. JNU leader Kanhaiya Kumar is also expected to arrive in Varanasi on Monday.
 
Who said what
"Being the local MP, Modi is equally responsible for this brutality. It is surprising that Modi changed his route to reach the temple for offering prayer to Goddess Durga, but did not find it necessary to meet the girls, who were on stir demanding proper security for them," Raj Babbar told reporters. 

 

 
 Action taken 
  • Three additional city magistrates and two policemen removed by the UP govt in connection with the baton-charge on BHU students. 
  • An FIR has been registered against 1,200 students for protesting in the BHU campus.
     
  • The district administration has asked the BHU registrar to form a committee in light of directives of the supreme court and high court in the Vishakha case.
     
  • University professors and students feel that if the university administration had taken action or assured the girls about providing them a safe campus, nothing of this sort would have happened. 

 

Comments

 

Other News

HPCL, Tata Steel among National CSR Award 2020 winners

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, HDFC, Tata Steel and Tech Mahindra are among the winners and the recipients of honourable mentions in the National CSR Awards 2020 announced by the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) on Thursday. The MCA instituted the annual National Corporate Social Respon

India’s tree lovers get together for a nation-wide tree festival

A good monsoon has left the trees all washed and spruced up. It’s right time to take a good look at them, and also to tell the young generation about their diversity. So, tree lovers across the country have joined hands to celebrate a festival of trees this month. The August Tree Fest

How did a policeman move unarmed and fearlessly for 37 long years in Bihar?

Unbounded: My Experiments with Law, Physics, Policing and Super 30 By Abhayanand Rupa Publications, 344 pages, Rs 595   Abhayanand has

India@75: A timely study of the state of the nation

India after 1947: Reflections & Recollections By Rajmohan Gandhi Aleph, 118 pages, Rs 399 Rajmohan Gandhi was about 11 when India won independence. As the nation celebrates 75 years of freedom, how would he – and others like him – feel?

BMC denies protocol breach in ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’

The BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) has rebutted a Shiv Sena leader’s allegation of breach of protocol in the implementation of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. On Friday Rahul Shewale, group leader of Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha, had accused BMC commissioner IS Chahal

Mumbai`s stalled building projects: Is self-redevelopment the real solution?

Land in Mumbai city, which is surrounded by water on three sides, is scarce and has a premium. Property prices in certain areas of financial capital of the country are as much as Rs 1 lakh per sq ft. Yet, 5,800 buildings have been lying in a stalled condition for the last 18 years. Meanwhile

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter