BHU Appoints Female Guards, But Are the Women Safe in the Campus?


As the recent protests in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) following an alleged incident of molestation is yet to die down, another case of physical violence with a girl student has been registered on Thursday. The victim, a student of MA Sociology, was allegedly attacked and her mobile phone was snatched while she was on her way to the class.

The victim has lodged a written complaint at Lanka police station where she has said that Shitla Sharan Gaund, a third semester MA Public Administration student, misbehaved with her in her department.

“When I was going down the stairs of my department, he (Gaund) pulled my hair and snatched my cell phone. He slapped me inside the classroom before everyone. He threw my handset on a bench,” she told the police in her complaint, a copy of which is in possession of Newsclick.

The girl has also approached the proctor who has reportedly assured her of strict action against the culprit.

The police is said to have arrested the accused whose questioning is going on at Lanka police station.

The BHU campus was on the boil for days following the alleged molestation of a student. The century-old varsity was rattled by events that unfolded shortly after the midnight of September 23, when BHU guards and police lathi-charged students protesting alleged inaction on the complaint of the victim.

Several students, mostly women, were wounded in the police crackdown and subsequent clashes in which protesters were being accused of arson and throwing stones at police.
Instead of meeting the protesting students and assuring them that their demands of safety, security and gender indiscrimination would be addressed, Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi indulged in victim blaming and justified the police action on the campus. He made several controversial statements while talking to the media following the incident.

Pressure mounted on the beleaguered VC on September 26 after the Varanasi commissioner blamed the institute’s administration for violence in the campus. The National Human Rights Commission also sought an explanation from the university.

While the Crime Branch of Varanasi police is probing into the cases of rioting and arson on the campus, a judicial investigation headed by a retired Allahabad High Court Judge – VK Dikshit – too has been initiated.

Unhappy with the recent turn of events that has tarnished the image of the government, the Vice Chancellor was sent on forced leave for an indefinite period and BHU Registrar Neeraj Tripathi has been appointed as interim VC.

Meanwhile, the university has begun hunting for a new vice chancellor. An advertisement in this regard has also been put out.

Earlier, BHU Chief Proctor ON Singh resigned, taking “moral responsibility” for the lathi charge on students demanding justice for their fellow student who was molested on the campus.

Professor Royana Singh, who recently became the first woman Chief Proctor of the university, has promised to instil confidence among the girls. According to her, all sensitive locations have been identified and lights and security arrangements are being increased at these spots. A total of 65 CCTV cameras have been installed at 65 locations on the varsity premises.

Yogendra Yadav stopped from entering BHU campus

National President of Swaraj India Yogendra Yadav, who was in Varanasi today, was stopped from meeting the girl students and the interim vice chancellor on the campus. He was not allowed to enter the campus.

He addressed the students at the main gate of the university and said, “Manoj Tiwari (BJP MP from northeast Delhi) is a son-in-law of the government but I don’t enjoy that privilege. Therefore, I was denied entry but he was not.”

Tiwari had visited BHU on Saturday. Talking to students, he cautioned them to avoid politicising the incident. “I wanted to visit the campus since the day I learned about the incident. BHU is my alma mater. What happened was unfortunate and I am happy that judicial probe has already been initiated. Truth should come out soon and whoever is found to be guilty must be punished. Safety and security of the campus is the priority of the government. But you should avoid politicising the matter,” he told the students.

BHU appoints female security guards

A first in the history of the 100-year-old institution, seven women have been appointed as security guards in the BHU. The guards have been deployed at the varsity’s Mahila Maha Vidyalaya.

Approval for 28 more female security guards has been given by the proctorial committee and the government. These security guards will be deployed in phases.

The BHU administration has also constituted an all-woman squad on the suggestion of Varanasi District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra.

Male security personnel will be on standby for emergency situations.

As per records, the BHU spends around Rs 14 crore on security arrangements annually. Currently, BHU has 700 security personnel (all men). The university has 83 hostels, of which 22 are for female students.