As demonstrations against the government and police intensify for conducting lathicharge on female students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the administration on Monday registered FIR against 1,000 BHU students in Lanka police station for arson. Meanwhile, Station Officer (SO) of Lanka police station Rajiv Singh, Circle Officer (CO) Belapur Nivesh Katiyar and three Additional City Magistrate Manoj Kumar Singh, Sushil Kumar Gaund and Jagdamma Prasad Singh have been removed prima facie for executing the charge.
The removal comes just 24 hours after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sought a report from Varanasi Divisional Commissioner Nitin Gokarn over the issue. Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar, too, directed Gokarn and ADG (Varanasi Zone) Vishwajit Mahapatra to submit a joint report. The ongoing protests against the BHU administration for victim-shaming a first-year student turned violent on Saturday night as police conducted lathicharge in the campus injuring several female students. At least four girls were reported to have suffered head injuries in the clashes that ensued.
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The conduct receiving wide condemnation and criticism from people around the country forced the government to investigate the matter. The incident took place on Thursday evening when an Arts Faculty student was allegedly harassed by three men on a motorcycle inside the campus while she was returning to her hostel. The student alleged that her warden, instead of taking up the issue, asked her why was she was returning so late. The incident triggered protests by students over the lack of safety and alleged “victim shaming”.
While BHU Vice Chancellor G C Tripathi alleged there was an involvement of outsiders in flaring up the situation, students said that they were denied a meeting with Tripathi after which they sat on dharna. Female students sitting on dharna outside the Triveni hostel gate were attacked by the police, after which the police personnel entered boys hostel and beat them up.
In the wake of the violence that followed the lathicharge, police used pellet guns and rubber bullets to control the situation on the university campus. Talking to The Indian Express, Circle Officer, Sadar, Nivesh Katiyar admitted that the police used force and fired rubber pellets to disperse the students. He said the tension began at about 10.30 pm when a group of students staged a protest outside the V-C’s residence. He claimed that as the students pelted stones, the policemen deployed outside the V-C’s residence forced them to leave.
Congress leaders Raj Babbar and P L Punia, along with a score of party activists, were detained yesterday when they tried to visit BHU. They were later released. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP over the police lathicharge allegedly on woman students, as BHU issued a statement saying that the ‘dharna’ by the students just a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit was “politically motivated” to malign the image of the university.
Nearly 1,500 police personnel, including contingents of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), have been deployed to maintain law and order on the campus.
(With inputs from PTI)