Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students opposing the appointment of a Muslim professor to the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) called off their sit-in protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s (V-C) office and residence on Friday.
The students, however, said that they would continue to boycott classes and may even resume their agitation if the BHU administration fails to answer their questions in 10 days.
The protesting students have maintained that they are not opposing the appointment of a Muslim professor, but the recruitment of a non-Hindu for teaching a subject associated with the religion. The university administration has backed post-doctoral scholar Firoze Khan, saying his appointment was on merit.
On Friday, an affiliate of the RSS, Samskrita Bharati, also came out in support of Khan. “There is a misunderstanding connected to the subject Dharma Shastra. Dharma doesn’t mean Religion. India is the oldest civilisation. At various times there have been various constitutions for the smooth functioning of society. Today, they are known as Smritis. These Smritis are studied in the Dharma Shastra subject. According to the modern vocabulary Dharma Shastra may be translated as Law,” Samskrita Bharati said in a press release.
The students had been staging a sit-in protest for the past two weeks. The SVDV faculty was closed since November 7. It reopened on Thursday. However, Khan is still on leave.
The HRD Ministry, sources said, was asked by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday to ensure the protest ends soon. Following this, the university was directed to keep engaging with the students.
“The students who have been staging a sit-in outside the V-C residence against the appointment of an Assistant Professor in Sahitya department of faculty of SVDV have ended the dharna. University administration has been in constant touch with the students throughout the day following talks with them on Thursday,” said university spokesperson Rajesh Singh.
Among the list of questions handed over by the students to the university is whether Khan’s appointment was done in accordance with the BHU Act of 1904, 1906, 1915, 1951, 1966 and 1969. The administration has also been asked if the selection process followed the rules of traditional Sanatan Dharma as per the SVDV faculty. In a hand-written statement issued to the media on Friday, the students said they were ending the sit-in as the matter is now in the knowledge of the PM and the university has given a written assurance of answers. “We will boycott classes and our protest will go on till our issues are resolved,” the statement reads.
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