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Muslim teacher in BHU Sanskrit faculty makes some students’ hackles rise

File photo: Banaras Hindu University   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

A controversy has erupted in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), with some students opposing the appointment of an assistant professor in the Sanskrit faculty, allegedly because of his Muslim identity.

Pressed to issue a clarification on the matter, the BHU late on Thursday in an official statement stated that it had “unanimously” appointed the “most qualified candidates” through a “transparent” screening process headed by the Vice-Chancellor (VC).

The varsity also stressed that it was founded with the objective that “equal opportunity would be provided to all to study and teach” for the purpose of nation-building “by rising above discrimination” on the basis of religion, caste, sect and gender.

Protesting against the appointment of Firoz Khan as an assistant professor in the Sahitya (literature) department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) of the central university, a section of students staged a loud sit-in at the Holkar Bhawan, near the residence of the Vice-Chancellor on Thursday. They demanded that the appointment be cancelled.

Punit Mishra, one of the protesters, said the stir was held to protect the “values” of BHU founder Madan Mohan Malaviya. He claimed that a stone-slab in the Sanskrit faculty mentioned that only Hindus and followers of Jainism, Buddhism and Arya Samaj, were allowed entry into the department. “We don't oppose him [the Muslim candidate] but support the values of Mahamana [Malaviya]. We are fighting for his values," Mr. Mishra told journalists.

Shubham Tiwary, a Ph.D scholar who is leading the protest, said “an unfit person” had been appointed to the Sanskrit faculty “after receiving bribes.” The students also submitted a memorandum to the VC. 

“When a person gets appointed, he will teach till the age of 65. In those years, so many students will come to learn. The future of so many will be ruined,” Mr. Tiwary told the media. 

‘Rules followed’

Ram Narayan Dwivedi, an associate professor of the department, dismissed the students' charge that the selection process was not followed in appointing a Muslim person. “The selection took place as per the rules”, he said. He condemned the “disturbance” caused by the protesting students as “improper.”

Several BHU students and social media users condemned the stance of the protesting students. 

The BHU said the students tried to “obstruct” a meeting of the screening committee and acknowledged that they were staging a dharna in protest against the appointment of a “Muslim candidate” for the assistant professor post.

As per the BHU website, the SVDV faculty was established in 1918 by M.M. Malaviya “in order to materialise the chief goal of this University i.e. to preserve and promote the studies of Ancient Indian Shastras, Sanskrit language and literature with the intention to bring about a fruitful dialogue between the East and the West."

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2021 9:40:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/fresh-row-at-bhu-as-students-oppose-appointment-of-muslim-professor/article29917378.ece

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