Banaras Hindu University continues to remain on tenterhooks on Monday, two days after police lathicharged students protesting against the university administration for allegedly victim shaming a student who claimed she was sexually harassed by three men inside the campus.
A district magistrate and two policemen have been suspended after students, mostly girls, and two journalists were injured in Saturday night’s lathicharge. The varsity has advanced the date of Durga Puja holidays by three days from Sep 28 to Sep 25 due to the prevailing security situation. The University will remain closed until October 2.
What is the BHU harassment case?
On Thursday, a BHU student of the Arts Faculty was allegedly harassed by three motorcycle-borne men inside the varsity’s campus when she was returning to the Triveni Hostel. The student alleged that instead of raising the matter with university authorities, the hostel warden questioned her why she was returning so late. Hundreds of students sat on dharna in the campus after this string of events in protest against lack of safety and alleged victim shaming.
What is the situation now?
Additional City Magistrate, Station Officer Lanka and CO Bhelupur have been removed after police used force to disperse the students. Meanwhile, the VC has alleged that the incident was pre-planned and hinted at the involvement of “outsiders” and “anti-national” elements. However, an FIR has been filed against hundreds of students of BHU.
The BHU administration allegedly took steps to force students to vacate hostels a day after the protests. The administration cut off water and power supply to hostels on Sunday. Though the administration denied the reports, students alleged that all boarders of women’s hostels were warned to vacate their rooms by 4 pm on Sunday.
Police filed a FIR against unidentified students under the Indian Penal Code sections 147 (rioting), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 307 (attempt to murder), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc).
On Saturday night, a group of protesting students gathered outside the residence of Vice Chancellor GC Tyagi and allegedly attempted to enter the VC’s residence. The students alleged inaction on the part of BHU administration and wanted to meet the VC. However, the situation turned violent and police allegedly used teargas shells and rubber pellets to disperse the protesters. The students also alleged that two professors on the BHU proctorial board caned them.
The men’s hostels were also reportedly targeted. At least seven students and two journalists were injured in the lathicharge. Violence spread across the campus and at least three vehicles were found torched. Varanasi SSP Ram Krishna Bhardwaj said a few policemen were also injured in the clashes.
Videos purportedly showing policemen trying to enter a girls’ hostel and beating boarders surfaced on social media. Some of the students alleged that the police went on to drag them out from their hostels and even manhandled them.
How did the government authorities react?
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report from Nitin Gokarn, Varanasi Divisional Commissioner who told The Indian Express that he has started an investigation into the matter. Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar has told Gokarn and Vishwajit Mahapatra, ADG (Varanasi Zone) to submit a joint report on the matter at the earliest.