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Muslim professor facing protest at BHU switches faculty

BHU assistant professor Feroze Khan.

BHU assistant professor Feroze Khan.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Feroze Khan submitted his resignation on Monday and expressed his wish to teach in the Sanskrit department of the Arts faculty.

Feroze Khan, who was appointed as an assistant professor in the Literature Department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV) of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), resigned after a month-long protest against his selection, an official said on December 10. 

Mr. Khan submitted his resignation on December 9 and expressed his wish to teach in the Sanskrit Department of the Arts faculty, said Professor Kaushalendra Pandey, the Dean of the department.

Some students and members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students wing of the RSS, have, since November 7, opposed Mr. Khan’s appointment, saying he was ineligible to teach in the faculty, being a Muslim. While they had called off their dharna for 10 days and issued an ultimatum to the varsity, the students resumed the protest last week, even as the faculty remained shut since the protests and due to the scheduled examinations.

“Feroze Khanji has resigned from here. And expressing wish to teach in the Sanskrit department, he has resigned and joined there,” Mr. Pandey said. The change in his department is seen as part of a compromise deal.

“For some reasons, he could not join there [SVDV]. Incidentally, he got two more opportunities, a total of three opportunities. Among all three, he accepted the post he preferred the most. It is a good thing for him,” said Prof. Pandey.

The BHU is yet to issue a statement. 

Dalit professor alleges attack

The resignation came on the day Shantilal Salvi, a Dalit assistant professor in the Literature department of the SVDV, alleged that he was attacked by a group of students for supporting Mr. Khan. Mr. Salvi has been among the few faculty members who openly spoke out against the treatment of Mr. Khan. 

An FIR was lodged at the Lanka police station against four persons, Shubham Tiwary, a Ph.D scholar, Prof. Pandey, Munish Mishra, an outsider, and an unknown person on charges of criminal assault and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.

Incidentally, some of the students who allegedly attacked Mr. Salvi, were also heading the protests against Mr. Khan, including Mr. Tiwary. 

In his complaint, Mr. Salvi said he was sitting in the faculty on December 9 noon when some students barged in and tried to shut the premises. As he was leaving, the students hurled casteist abuses at him and with threats to harm him, chased him.

One student allegedly even hurled a stone at Mr. Salvi but it missed him. After running for his life for about 400 metres, he could escape after a biker gave him lift, Mr. Salvi claimed.

Mr. Salvi alleged Mr. Pandey had instigated and “poisoned” the minds of the students. “He had been harassing me with casteist language for many years”, he claimed.

Mr. Pandey was spreading rumours that Mr. Salvi's wife Sakina is a Muslim and was Mr. Khan's sister. Hence Mr. Salvi allegedly helped in Mr. Khan’s appointment, Mr. Salvi said.

“She [his wife Sakina] is a Hindu,” stated Mr. Salvi, adding that he was not part of the appointment committee. 

Along with a group of students and teachers, Mr. Salvi approached Vice-Chancellor (VC) Rakesh Bhatnagar and complained against the incident. 

A BHU spokesperson said the VC strongly condemned the incident and was pained to hear about it. “The VC has assured that a committee will be formed to probe the matter and action will be taken against those found guilty,” he stated. 

Mr. Pandey was not available for comment.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:47:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/muslim-teacher-in-bhu-sanskrit-faculty-resigns/article30266796.ece

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