For the last one week, students of the Sanskrit literature department at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been protesting against the appointment of a Muslim assistant professor, arguing that Muslims are not allowed to enter the department.
The Sanskrit literature department comes under Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) faculty of the Central university.
Sources in the university said no classes have been held at the department since Dr Firoz Khan’s appointment on November 6. Khan too has not visited the faculty premises since his appointment, fearing the “threat” from protesting students, they said.
“It is written on the plaque that the entry of non-Aryans is prohibited in the department. The plaque was installed by BHU founder Madan Mohan Malaviya ji in 1916 when the university was established. The entry of Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists is allowed, but other non-Hindus are prohibited from entering the department,” said Shubham Kumar Tiwary, a PhD student at the Sahitya department of the faculty.
On Thursday, the protesting students met Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar and the Head of Department Umakant Chaturvedi and demanded the cancellation of Khan’s appointment.
In the meeting that lasted for around three hours, the university authorities told the students that Khan’s appointment can’t be rescinded.
“We have been told that the matter will be discussed with a legal expert in the future… We will continue our protest till he (Khan) is removed,” Tiwary said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Professor Chaturvedi said that Khan was appointed by due process. “What is written on the plaque can’t be followed because the university comes under the UGC and we have to follow the rules and guidelines of the UGC,” the professor said.
Meanwhile, Khan said that he has been studying Sanskrit since Class 2.
“I have done my BA, BEd, MA and PhD from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Jaipur. I also did my PhD in Sanskrit literature and was awarded Sanskrit Yuva Pratibha Purushkar by the Rajasthan government…. Nine candidates had appeared for this post, which I managed to get.”