After a week-long Dussehra break, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) reopened with half-empty classrooms, quiet corridors, new CCTV cameras and a contingent of women security personnel roped in from the district administration’s team of home guards.
The students who did attend the first day of class said they were happy that Vice-Chancellor G C Tripathi had been asked to go on leave. “We are very satisfied with the V-C being asked to go on leave. The incident of women students being lathicharged would have got any V-C an ouster. But because this is a time-consuming process and our V-C has only two months left for his tenure to end, he has been asked to go on leave. However small, it is a victory for us. Security is being upped on campus because of our protest, and this was badly needed,” said Hemani, a second-year student.
On Tuesday, the BHU administration carried out a survey on campus for installation of CCTVs. Ankita, a third-year student from Triveni women’s hostel said, “CCTVs are being fixed today at the MMV main gate. But we feel these should be done at the unmanned crossings like the one where the second-year student was molested. Here at the gates, there are guards round the clock.”
The university has also requested the district administration to deploy 50 women home guards as a “measure of exigency” till it tenders with a security agency for a permanent security team. “Six female guards have been roped in for the Mahila Maha Vidyalay. They are not BHU’s and are not wearing uniforms decided by the administration. But they are here round the clock,” a BHU official said on condition of anonymity.
BHU PRO Rajesh Singh said, “Twenty-four CCTVs have been fixed and several LED streetlights are being fixed, especially outside women’s hostels. This is being taken up on a war footing. Anyone found roaming near women’s hostels will be questioned and asked to move away. The chief proctor’s team of women is riding cycles disguised as ordinary people around campus, especially public areas like the temple and hospitals, to keep an eye on troublemakers.”
BHU authorities also said that online portals open to reports of sexual harassment, as well as the sexual harassment committees, are “very active and alert”.
With most classrooms reporting just half the strength of students, several classes were cancelled, said sources.