A group of BHU students on Monday allegedly chased a Dalit professor of Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) faculty and tried to assault him for “backing” Muslim Sanskrit scholar Dr Firoze Khan’s appointment as an assistant professor.
Students of the university’s SVDV faculty have been protesting against Khan’s appointment since early November for the only reason that he is a Muslim.
Professor Shanti Lal Salvi alleged that while he was coming out of his faculty office, a group of students started abusing him with casteist remarks and started to chase him with an intent to attack him. In a letter written to the Chief Proctor O P Rai, Salvi has accused a senior professor of the faculty of inciting the students against him.
“At 12.05 pm, I was sitting in my office at the SVDV faculty when some students came to me and asked me to leave as they were closing the faculty. Soon I came out with a colleague when an outsider, Munish Mishra, along with a student, Shubham Tiwari, and others started raising slogans against me. They called me and the department HoD a thief. Soon, more students joined and started making casteist remarks. They all chased me to beat me up. Sensing that my life is in threat, I started running and after around half a kilometre, I took a lift from a bike rider to reach the central office. One of the students threw a brick at me, but he missed,” Salvi wrote in the letter to the proctor.
Asked about the reason behind the incident, Salvi told The Indian Express that the whole matter is connected with the appointment of Firoze Khan and alleged that a university professor has incited the students against him.
“In my department, there is one professor who was once the HoD. For the last many years, he has been harassing me. He has spread a rumour among the students that my wife, who has done PhD from BHU, is Muslim and she is the sister of Firoze Khan. He has also told the students that I am the one who brought Firoze here and that’s why the students attacked me today. I have handed the letter to the Proctor and I will also get an FIR registered against those who assaulted me,” Salvi said, without naming the professor.
On Monday evening, around 20 professors of the university along with Salvi met Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar and Chief Proctor Rai to discuss the matter. The administration has promised to set up an inquiry committee to investigate the matter.
“Based on findings of the committee, action will be taken against those responsible, as per the university rules. An FIR in the case is being registered at Lanka police station in Varanasi,” a university official said.
Meanwhile, protest by SVDV students against Khan’s appointment continued on Monday with no classes being held. The students have also announced to boycott the semester exams scheduled to start from Tuesday.
Sources in the university said that Firoze Khan has been selected in all the three faculties — Faculty of Ayurveda and Faculty of Arts along with SVDV faculty — where he had applied, and now it will be his decision whether he wants to resign from the SVDV, where he facing protest, and join any of the other two faculties.
Firoze Khan, who is currently on leave, could not be reached for comment.