In this 21st century, it is believed that the centers for education, starting from primary level to higher education institutes, provide us with a space for voices and ideas to germinate, where one learns how to not only teach but also how to preach ideas such as equality, freedom of thought and expression along with the idea of debate and discussions. It is also supposed to provide ample spaces for arguments/counter-arguments where one is free from all the fears to talk on topics which are highly sensitive in nature be it nation’s historical background or the struggle that the minorities have been dealing with or the institution of patriarchy in itself
Universities prepare us with the necessary education along with experience to have a rationale approach towards life, enabling us to distinguish between what is right and what is not.
Banaras Hindu University(BHU) seems to be based on different principals altogether. It has served as the oldest Sangh recruiting grounds. The Modi government went ahead and presented the Madan Mohan Malviya with a Bharat Ratna in its first year in the office.
Girish Chandra Tiwari, the current Vice Chancellor of BHU prides himself in being a Sangh’s product. He boasts of his association with RSS quite often be it in front of the students or the Rajya Sabha. His misogynist and discriminatory decisions include banning non- vegetarian food served in the girl’s hostels while no such restrictions were taken in the case of boy’s hostels.
According to many BHU alumni, it is neither distressing nor it is something new when it comes to cases of harassment, maltreatment (physical and psychological), eve teasing or institutionalized instructions of ‘always’ adhering to ‘limits’ (Indian?). Girls are timely regulated, barring entry to the hostels and library, there is not even a single logic to reason as to why girls can’t be out there beyond 6 PM. It is reported that the number of instances of molestation and harassment have increased in the campus over the years.
REFUSAL TO GIVE IN
According to sources, a student from Bachelor of Fine Arts course lodged at BHU’s Triveni hostel was molested and harassed by 3 bike- borne men in the campus premises while she was on her way back to the hostel after her classes on Thursday evening (September 21). The girl claims to have shouted and cried for help but the security guards, who were a few meters away from her, paid no heed to her cires. Later, when she reported the incident to the Chief Proctor, he rather than taking actions against the accused, charged her with allegations of “ being out in the dark after 6:30”. Character questioned and victim blaming was what she got as an ‘official response’.
“Even after lodging complaints with the Warden, Proctor and the Vice Chancellor , no actions were taken against the accused”, while protesting at Lanka Gate the young protestors wanted to talk about pompous “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaign. They wanted to make sure the prime Minister notices the condition of women in his constituency. They hung a huge banner outside the main gate which read “ Bachegi Beti, tabhi toh padhegi beti”. Students wanted the head of the state should come and see the actual state of women in BHU.
The student was shamed by officials for roaming in the late hours and was also asked to forget whatever happened as the PM was about to visit the constituency. It was then the students decided to go on a protest, demanding gender equality, support from BHU administration, safety in the campus and to speak to the Vice Chancellor. BHU failed to provide with the demands which obviously were very basic for any residential university to provide.
The young protesters were instead lathi- charged by men in uniform with no presence of women security forces. Many footages show policemen hitting the students, some were being kicked and punched, and while some of them were dragged.
In a conversation with The Quint, BHU Professor Pratima Gond has said that students were lathicharged, and she was also injured on her head during the clash. Laws say that, as the professor told, people can not be hit on their heads during lathicharge.
Many officials have tried to present a different yet repeated narrative. They said the protest was highly influenced by the outside forces of “anti – nationals and anarchists”. The university’s PRO, Rajesh Singh blamed the students from the left wing and Samajwadi party’s outfits as the main contributors to the protest. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday termed the protest as a “Naxalite Movement”. “ I support the Vice Chancellor, because the protest appears to be a Naxalite movement, which only means that they wanted to harm the Vice Chancellor”, Swamy told ANI. He also said that he stood with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and appreciated him for the comprehensive report that he has asked for.
In the video posted below, VC Girish Tripathi has accepted his lies of denying the lathicharge on the girls. He in the beginning denied that any such brutal lathicharge was inflicted upon girls. While arguing with students, he asked to present before him the girls who were lathicharged, and completely denied the happening of any such incident. Later on, he conceded to his ‘mistakes’. Please watch the video.
The series of events at BHU reveal a drastic state of women in this country, no matter how modern we call ourselves and no matter how impactful slogans we shout. Attaining gender justice is not an easy task in India. Though many social activists and reformers took out their crusades against all social odds to restore honor and dignity to women but disparities still hunt our women. Despite pronounced social development and technological advancement, women in our society still continue to be victims of exploitation and social atrocities. Article 15 of the Indian constitution states that the state shall not discriminate or dishonor any citizen of this country be it established on any grounds.
For the first time in the history, Banaras Hindu University administration on Thursday appointed professor Royana Singh as the first women chief proctor of the university. She takes the charge after O.N Singh resigned from the post taking moral responsibility for the lathi charge on the protesting students.
The irony is that there is still widespread discrimination which is a form of injustice to women. Hence at the onset of the new millennium let this generation be a historic example by putting an end to the gender – based discrimination by unfurling the flag of gender justice in all our action and dealings.