Seven students have been booked for allegedly hurling anti-Dalit slurs and forcing the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to take down a poster put up on campus by the SC/ST students’ cell, marking B R Ambedkar’s death anniversary, early Wednesday. The poster was later reinstated by the BHU administration following protests, only to be taken down again.
Around 1 am on Wednesday, the seven students allegedly forced the BHU administration to take down the poster at the Mahila Maha Vidyalaya (MMW) crossing — a few metres from the university’s main gates. Following a complaint lodged by the SC/ST students’ cell with the police, Ashutosh Singh, Vikas Raj, Suraj Bhardwaj, Pratyus Pandey, Reshav Kumar, Nishant Raj and Pawan Pandey were booked under Section 147 (rioting) of the IPC and Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act.
The complaint, while accusing the group of “tearing and pulling down the poster of the father of the Constitution, B R Ambedkar”, said it has “caused the Dalit and other SC/ST minority students deep mental and psychological trauma, leaving them with a deep sense of insecurity on campus”. It alleged that anti-Dalit slurs were hurled at them.
“When the boys were pulling down the posters, they raised slogans saying they will not allow posters of chamars and Dalits to come up anywhere in the university,” said Kunal, a member of the SC/ST cell. Rakesh Kumar, a member of the ST/SC cell, said: “We had put up a poster for an event on December 6 (Ambedkar death anniversary)… posters for all upcoming events in the university are put up at the MMV crossing. But this group began creating a ruckus post midnight and forced security officials at the campus take down the poster. When we protested outside the proctors’ office, the staff got it put up around an hour later.”
When contacted, Chief Proctor Royana Singh said: “We did it because the group of boys created a controversy. But then the students of the SC/ST cell gheraoed our office and we put up the poster again. But we were forced to take it down again later in the morning.” “In the evening, the SC/ST cell members asked us to complain to the police. We have forwarded their complaint to the police. The boys who made us take down the poster also misbehaved with me and other proctorial and security staff,” she added.
The BHU management said the group also wanted Dalit leader Kanshi Ram’s photo to be erased from the poster. Amarnath Paswan, a professor of Dalit studies and the Indian Constitution at Faculty of Social Sciences’ Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, allegedly witnessed the ruckus. He claimed that “a group of anti-social elements”, while indulging in “anti-university activities”, wanted to disrupt the meet, which is organised every year by students to observe Ambedkar’s death anniversary. “What is shameful is that they are shaming the Father of the Constitution,” Paswan said.
No arrests have been made in the case yet. Police were not available for comment.