Protest against ‘Muslim’ faculty ends, BHU Sanskrit department reopens

File photo of the Banaras Hindu University.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

The students opposing the appointment of a ‘Muslim’ as assistant professor in the Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vijnan (SVDV) faculty of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) on Friday called off their 15-day dharna.

They, however, vowed to carry on their campaign through other means such as writing to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). They would continue the boycott of classes and examinations till their demand is met with.

“On the 15th day, we have decided to give a break to this andolan. But our fight will continue on the path of struggle till our demand is met,” Chakrapani Ojha, one of the student leaders behind the protest, told journalists.

The protesting students, who had been on a sit-in since November 7, have been demanding that the central varsity cancel the appointment of assistant professor Feroze Khan in the Sahitya (Literature) Department of the SVDV and transfer him to another faculty.

Mr. Ojha, a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS-BJP, said the students would on Saturday submit a memorandum of their demands to the PMO.

“The Prime Minister has taken cognizance of the issue and sought a report from the BHU. We will also submit a report and ensure our demands are met,” said Mr. Ojha.

A senior administrative official of the BHU, however, told The Hindu that no such report would be sent to the PMO and dismissed the dharna as “baseless, illegal and unconstitutional.”

“We are not concerned by the dharna. Feroze Khan was appointed under the OBC category as per the rules and UGC norms. He is a most learned and intelligent person,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official further said that 99 percent of the university staff and administration were behind Mr. Khan and only a minuscule section of “narrow-minded” people was opposing the appointment.

“There are only 13 students opposing his appointment and they can’t be the representative of the university, which at present has 32,000 students," the official said.

There was no word, however, if and when Mr. Khan would begin teaching, as the university is set to conduct semester exams soon.

Students list of queries

The withdrawal of dharna by students came hours after they submitted a list of queries to the BHU administration on Thursday evening. The faculty also reopened on the day and, as per the administration, “functioned smoothly.”

A university spokesperson said, “After written assurances by the Chief Proctor and the Head of the department, to respond to the questions within 10 days, the students said they would end their sit-in”.

The memorandum submitted by the students primarily seeks clarification on details of the selection and short-listing process for Mr. Khan's appointment and if the screening was done impartially and as per the BHU Act 1915 and values of varsity founder Madan Mohan Malviya.

The students, however, said that till a credible response was not given to them by the administration, they would continue to boycott the classes and examinations. After the 10-day deadline, they would be compelled to restart their protest, said Mr. Ojha.

Road cleared

The university, in an official statement on Friday evening, said that at 5:30 p.m., the students ended the sit-in, after which the road on which they have been staging the protest, outside the Vice Chancellor's office, was cleared.

“The university hopes the students will cooperate in maintaining the academic atmosphere in the university in the wake of the ensuing semester examinations,” the BHU public relations officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 10:26:23 AM |

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