Sunday, 24 September 2017

Defiant Authorities at BHU Threaten Students of More Police Violence After Recent Lathicharge

- Anurag Pathak/ 23.9.2017

Amidst spiraling student agitation on the BHU campus, against savage police repression unleashed upon the students last night, and in its wake, the anti-government protests across the country catching momentum, the Varsity administration has issued marching out orders to students, asking them to vacate the hostels by 4 pm today or face more stern action by PAC, the armed constabulary.    

Last night, police has brutally lathicharged the protesting students of Banaras Hindu University who had continued to protest for the fourth day against molestation of a female student inside the campus. Dozens of students, majority of them girls, have got admitted to hospital after they suffered multiple injuries during this predatory police operation.

The molestation incident had triggered protest of students against the University administration for its callousness in taking any action and blaming the victim, instead.

The whole issue started when a girl student was sexually harassed by two motorcycle borne youth while she was returning to her hostel room on Thursday evening.

The victim girl screamed but the University guards standing at close distance did not come to her rescue. When she tried to make complaint to Varsity Proctorial Board, she was asked not to move outside hostel after 6 pm.
One of the hostel inmates of the victim claimed that after the incident, students intended to come out to get a complaint registered, but the authorities prevented them by refusing to open the hostel gates.

Angered over and to protest against the insensitive attitude of the authorities, the girl students, inmates of Triveni hostel complex, reached at Lanka main gate of BHU and started a demonstration. The stir intensified after other girl inmates of the hostels of Mahila Mahavidyalaya and IIT-BHU also joined the protest. The anger of demonstrators was fuelled when a girl student of second year graduation course, who had faced similar menace of eve-teasers two days back on the campus, got her head tonsured.

According to the girl demonstrators, the road leading to Triveni Complex has no proper lighting arrangements and no security is deployed there. It makes it convenient for the eve-teasers to target the inmates of girls’ hostels and sexually harass them. 

Echoing the grievances of Triveni hostellers, the inmates of other hostels also complained of similar incidents involving vulgar comments, obscene poses and even physical assaults. Students told that such incidents are common on the complex inroads where female students from India and abroad are targeted alike.

More than 200 students had gathered last evening, demanding the Vice Chancellor to listen to their concerns focused around their security. The defiant Vice Chancellor, however has declined to show up. 

In a memorandum, addressed to the Chief Proctor, the hostel inmates had asked for installation of CCTV network, permanent deployment of security personnel and proper lighting on the routes leading to girls’ hostels. The girls also said that the eve-teasers many a time throw stones on their room's windows and commit obscenity in front of them. Incidents like these have forced many girls to leave BHU and abandon their studies, midway.

BHU spokesperson, Rajesh Singh admitted that the university administration has received the memorandum and the VC has decided to form a committee to review the situation. The genuine demands that can be accepted as per the rules of the Varsity would be considered. “Varsity administration has pledged for the security of each and every student and staff on the campus” he added. However, in the next breath, he attacked the agitating girl students, terming their protest ‘unfair’ adding that “Instead of meeting varsity officials including VC, with their complaint, they went for launching agitation”. He further said that “these girls had been provoked by some forces due to political gains as they chose a time when PM and CM were present in the city”.

The protest has been called the next day after the event of harassment on Thursday night, coinciding with the visit of PM and CM in the city. Due to this visit, the city was obviously full of security personnel and ABVP goons, who are suspected to be involved in the incident. That is why the authorities, bent upon to shield the culprits are not taking any action to locate and punish them and instead they are keen to suppress the protest against it by force and violence.

Yogi government, that came to power this year in Uttar Pradesh, had boasted of a crackdown upon eve-teasers and had formed misnomer ‘anti-romeo squads' pledging to tackle the menace. These squads, instead turned out to be eve-teasers themselves, harassing the couples and love birds instead of teasers.

Yet another hypocritical campaign by the Modi Government, ‘beti bachao aur beti padhao' (Save daughters, Educate daughters) had recently got punctured when the son of top BJP leader in Haryana was booked for eve-teasing a girl in Chandigarh.

Due to the protest of BHU students, the official convoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scheduled earlier to pass through the BHU gate to reach Manas Mandir and Durgakund temple from DLW guest house last evening, changed its route to pass through Naria-Saket Nagar to avoid the protest.

No corporate news channel has visited the spot to cover the incidents despite the fact that the protest is one of its kind. A spontaneous and powerful protest!

Spot reporting is being done by the students themselves from the spot.

In late evening, as few of the girls went inside the hostel for some work, the hostel gates were got locked from outside by the warden to prevent the girls going back to join the protest outside. The girls had to break open the locks to get out and participate in the agitation. The administration was so desperate and scared that it installed jammers inside the campus so that the students could not report anything live. Police also fired several rounds into the air to disperse the agitating students.

The Varsity administration, continued to play hide and seek with students, assuring them to fix a meet with the VC. University officials, assisted by ABVP cadres, attempted to lure the agitating girls to the VC’s house, but the students insisted that VC must visit either protest site at the University’s main gate or the Mahila Mahavidyalaya to talk to the protestors.

Agitation was intensified late night yesterday, with appearance of large posters, inscribed with slogans- “Unsafe BHU” and “Safety First” - at the main gate of BHU. Making the poster an excuse, ABVP goons tried to provoke a fight with the protestors, apparently to handout a pretext to the Police to use force. But this was tackled by the protestors. On Saturday night, once again, yet another cunning attempt by ABVP cadres to get the site shifted to VC residence instead of the main gate, was foiled by the alert protestors.

With Vice-Chancellor GC Tripathi, not at all willing to talk to the protesting girls, the administration has used every maneuver to dissolve the protest through carrot and stick policy. Vice Chancellor was however gheraoed last evening by the protesting students outside his residence.

Yesterday night, the administration, following a pre-plan, locked out the toilets and disconnected the water supply to hostels. Then it unleashed the police violence. The police, not only had beaten the students but also chased them deep inside the campus, hunted and assaulted them brutally. The police entered the Birla hostel and searched for the protesting students. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesting girls. All male police, brutally beat up the girl students and injured them badly.

The best part is that many constables defied the orders to use unprovoked violence upon the students, refusing to participate in the lathicharge.

Today morning as new contingents of the armed police arrived on the campus including the battalion of women police, a fresh spate of police violence was launched once again. The police entered the hostels and again beat up the inmate students, mostly girls. Entire campus has been cordoned off by the police. With presence of more than 1500 police personnel the university campus is turned into a police barrack. 

Undeterred by the police violence and their own injuries, the girl students came to main gate of Varsity and surrounded the official car of the Senior Superintendent of Police confronting him as to why the Police was ordered to beat them up without any provocation. 

Later in the day, the angry students have set ablaze a police post outside the Varsity campus, after police has used more force including baton-charge and teargas.

Under the pressure of protesting students, the Superintendent of Police and the District Magistrate of Varanasi, were forced to impress upon the VC to listen to the protesting students, but to no avail.

Handing over the campus to the armed constabulary of the PAC, the Varsity authorities have given ultimatum to the students to vacate the hostels by 4 pm today or face action by the PAC. The authorities have declared a six days' shutdown till October 2.

The authoritarian and patriarchal Proctorial Board has imposed a whole set of protocols upon the girls for their ‘own safety'. Girls are directed to choose particular road while retiring to hostel and not to roam outside after 6 p.m. etc. From top to bottom, the bureaucratic apparatuses are full of the rascals whose cultural understanding is deep rooted in reaction, patriarchy and authority.

The authoritarian BHU administration, does not even conduct elections for students union. Instead of a duly elected popular union, the complaint student organizations like ABVP are promoted to assist the vicious authoritarian agenda of the administration that includes among others- the moral policing hand in hand with the ‘anti romeo squads' of the state.

The right-wing ABVP, student wing of the ruling BJP, is vehemently supporting the Varsity administration against the protestors.

ABVP is terming the whole protest and agitation to be sponsored by the ‘left-wingers’ and are accusing them of ‘diverting the issue to target the BJP instead of helping the girls'. The art of saving a mouse without killing the snake is well championed by the ABVP.

In the BHU student protest, a parallel can be easily drawn to that of similar protest in Jadavpur University of West Bengal a few months ago, where some ABVP goons had assaulted the students protesting in the campus and even molested girls, while the authorities on their part kept silent and blamed instead the victims.

Students, on their part, are gradually kicking out the fascists from every campus- JNU, DU, HCU and now BHU.

Though the memorandum of BHU students includes only modest demands relating to their safety and security, but the fascist authorities see the monster of rebellion lurking behind the student agitation. In their attempt to curb this monster in advance, they are virtually summoning it.

Even the petty struggles for minimal, basic demands, like safety and security of limbs and life, are forced to convert themselves into a full showdown against the police state under fascists.

Fascists are not ready to admit the youth and especially the women, even to a grain of freedom and liberty. They are hell bent upon reducing the campuses into prison cells, keeping the students captive therein.

Youth and students must organize against fascists and the authorities inside and outside the campuses. They must mobilize the working class against the common enemy and must forge an iron front with it against the ruling agents of capitalists, the fascists and the state under them. In their turn, the working class and students across the country must come forthwith to the aid of the fighting students in BHU to defeat the forces of reaction.

1 comment:

  1. Please be fair and dont call university officials as 'rascals'.The university represents best of Indian cultural heritage.--------a retired university employee