BHU violence: Pressure mounts on VC as Varanasi commissioner blames admin; NHRC seeks explanation
On September 23, several students, mostly women, and policemen were wounded in clashes after a police crackdown on protesters in front of the vice chancellor’s home.Updated: Sep 26, 2017, 23:55 IST
Pressure mounted on the beleaguered Banaras Hindu University’s vice chancellor on Tuesday after the Varanasi commissioner blamed the institute’s administration for last weekend’s campus violence and the National Human Rights Commission sought an explanation.
Vice chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, who was in New Delhi for the university’s executive council meeting, said a judicial investigation was initiated under retired Allahabad high court judge VK Dikshit.
The century-old BHU is rattled by events that unfolded shortly after Saturday midnight when university guards and police cane-charged students protesting alleged inaction on a complaint of molestation on the campus two days before.
Several students, mostly women, and cops were wounded in the crackdown and clashes in which protesters were being accused of arson and throwing stones at police.
As the protests threatened to spread to other universities, the BHU violence became a political talking point with opposition parties Congress and Samajwadi Party accusing the BJP government of mishandling the situation.
The violence became an embarrassment for the state government as it happened when the Prime Minister was visiting his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are said to be keeping an eye on the situation and had sought reports.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath promised stern action against the culprits.
“A magisterial probe has been ordered into the brawl and lathi-charge in BHU. Action has already been taken against a few,” he said at Gorakhnath temple on Tuesday evening.
He is the chief priest of the popular shrine in Gorakhpur.
Adityanath refused to commit anything on the vice chancellor, though. “His role is also being probed. I will say something once the report comes,” he said.
The human rights commission issued a notice to the vice chancellor, taking suo motu cognizance of “unwarranted manhandling and thrashing of agitating students, mostly women, by UP police”.
Tripathi denied on Monday that woman students were hit during the crackdown.
“There was no baton-charge on any girl … Action was taken against criminal and anti-social elements who (vandalised) varsity property,” he said.
The vice chancellor dubbed the alleged sexual harassment as part of a larger conspiracy to instigate woman students against him.
The vice chancellor briefed Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday about the campus unrest and sent a report to the ministry.
He reported the Centre after Varanasi commissioner Nitin Gokarn submitted a report blaming the university administration for the violence.
The report sent to chief secretary Rajiv Kumar says the BHU did not deal with a hosteller’s complaint over men on motorcycles molesting her on the campus.
It says a sensitive matter was not handled on time and the situation festered into a major controversy.
Tripathi refused comments on the probe report. “But is it possible to find out every fact about such a big incident within 24 hours?” he wondered.
The students alleged that campus security and police hit them with lathis, pulled many of them by their hair and dragged them.
Photos and videos from people present on the campus and at the entrance of the BHU’s main gate showed police descending on students who had gathered at the two locations.
Some videos, which could not be independently verified, showed policemen thrashing woman students.
(With inputs from HT correspondents in New Delhi)