BHU tension: Females feel unsafe, police beat students and nation questions the leaders
Why are the students protesting in BHU?
A BHU student was allegedly molested on Thursday evening by three men on a motorbike.
The molesters allegedly passed disrespectful comments, shouted abuses and touch her inappropriately. The girl cried for help. Even though security guards were deployed only 50m away, nobody came to her rescue.
When the girl went back and complained to the warden, instead of escalating the matter to the concerned superior authorities, she questioned the girl for not being at the hostel at late hours. According to students, the incident happened a little after 6 pm.
Sequence of protests
Evey other girl of the renowned, prestigious Banaras Hindu University is a frequent victim of eve-teasing and other methods of molestation.
A series of protests unfolded after the incident. Initially, a group of women sat outside the warden's office at midnight on Thursday.
On Friday, students took to the Lanka gate of the campus to protest, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Varanasi.
The victim's friend, who was herself eve-teased a month ago, shaved her head to display her disapproval.
All support to BHU girls in their fight for gender justice. It's a revolution, but it won't be televised!— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) September 23, 2017
See picture 2 for the demands. pic.twitter.com/ybYeo2errJ
As the word spread, students from other hostels and courses gathered outside the Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi's house to demand action from him.
According to a report in India Today, the chancellor asked 10 girls from the protest to meet with him, but they refused. They said that it is an age-old practice in BHU to suspend around 10 students during any such uprising to curb the protest.
Protests turn violent: Cops vs Students
The protest took an ugly turn on Saturday evening when guards outside the VC's house called the cops. The police resorted to baton charge. Several students and two journalists were critically injured. Police claims that the students pelted stones at them. However, students deny the allegation.
BHU molestation case: University calls protest work of 'anti-nationals' who want to malign institution https://t.co/SHUeEsjl83 pic.twitter.com/yTKch82Alt— DNA (@dna) September 25, 2017
A video of the police beating up students went viral on social media.
What a nasty way to respond to a crisis. All they wanted was a safer #BHU pic.twitter.com/2xe1rIppHe— tushar banerjee (@TusharBanerjee) September 23, 2017
BHU later issued a statement saying that the protests demanding safety for women in the campus was politically motivated. It is noteworthy that BHU does not have a student union, unlike the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, which questions the notion of there being any political motive behind the demand.
When the students attempted to silently protest on Sunday, the police made them flee, scaring them off with sticks.
'Can our leaders keep us safe?'
The students express utter disappointment in the way the authorities have handled the crisis. BJP leaders Yogi Adityanath and Modi are blamed for not being able to provide a safe environment to the girls.
Yogi Adityanath has looked into the reports and is deploying police force in the campus. The government remove five police officers for the negligence of duty and transferred them to other places. They are Manoj Kumar Singh, Susheel Kumar Gaur and Jagdamba Prasad Singh (all ACMs) and two others.
An internal inquiry found them guilty for the disturbance. At the same time, 1200 students have been charged for violence.
The university has been shut till October 2 and there were reports that protesting women students had been told to vacate their hostel rooms.
The VC has promised that CCTV cameras will soon be installed in the campus.
The opposition has sharply criticised the state government. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi derided the state's ruling BJP saying the violence was the "BJP version of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao in BHU".
Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, "Lathicharge on BHU students is condemnable. The government must find solutions through talks and not force. There should be action against those involved."
The incident has enraged masses all over the nation. A protest in Delhi University led by the Congress student wing, NSUI was held to condemn police action.
The protesting students said they would march to the Human Resources Development Ministry in Delhi.
Students in Jawaharlal Nehru University have also turned to the streets.