BHU violence : When did the protest become anti-national?

Varanasi: Students and police in a standoff in Varanasi late Saturday night. Female students at the prestigious University were protesting against the administration's alleged victim-shaming after one of them reported an incident of molestation on Thursday. PTI Photo (PTI9_24_2017_000107B)

On Saturday, 23rd September, when the entire nation was celebrating the brilliant speech by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the United Nations and hailing ‘naari shakti’, back home, girl students of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency were being lathi-charged.

What was their fault? Simple, they were raising voice against molestation on the BHU campus.

Banaras Hindu University, the 100-year-old institute, which is home to some of the best research facilities in the country is now embroiled in one of the worst campus violence incident in the recent times.

What’s baffling is the fact that the student were not protesting against any political ideology. The girls of BHU were not talking about any terrorist-turned-hero. They didn’t raise any ‘anti-national slogans’.

They simply wanted the BHU authorities to take action against culprits of the Thursday’s molestation case.

For two days they were sitting on dharna and nobody paid any attention. Then what happened on Saturday midnight that BHU Vice Chancellor GC Tripathi felt the urgency to unleash the brute force on the girls?

Male security personnel were seen dragging girls and shouting abuses at the female protesters.

The VC says it was ‘unfortunate’ but added that there were anti-national elements from outside that wanted to malign the prestige of the university.

Anti-national? Seriously? When did protesting against molestation become anti-national, Mr VC?

Was the state power centre in Lucknow consulted before ordering the lathicharge? The VC, himself an RSS man, didn’t realise the magnitude of this action in a VVIP constituency?

1,000 FIRs have been registered against the students. University holidays have been advanced, other colleges in Varanasi are shut down.

While politics over this is bound to happen, but the root cause of the protest, safety of women must not be forgotten.

And since the epicentre of this campus violence is Kashi, how can we not talk about religion.

Benaras has been there since the time Ganga didn’t need any cleanup plan. It is the seat of Hindu religion. So when majority of India is celebrating Navratri and invoking Goddess Durga, how can Kashi’s biggest university chief order lathicharge against girls?

From Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao to women reservation in Parliament, we have been given impression that things would change for us.

How? When we can’t protect our girls in colleges, why would parents send their girls to universities?

BHU girls didn’t organise any ‘Pinjra Tod‘ campaign against hostel timings, then why were they victim-shamed?

They simply wanted action. And what they got was a reaction, a brutal one.

BHU violence is not a standalone incident. It’s a watershed moment that will change the course of student politics.

A country that boasts about ‘young’ population, it would be suicidal for the authorities to mishandle the students’ issues.

Since BHU authorities have closed the university for Dussehra, let me remind them a thing or two about Ramayana.

Ramyana questioned Sita for crossing Lakhman Rekha, but now, we question you.

By using male police force on girl students, you have crossed the Lakhman Rekha.

By not protecting the girls, I fear for the fate of not the girls but many others. In case the BHU authorities have forgotten, allow me to remind them this Sanskrit verse from Manusmriti:

Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata, yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah (Where Women are honored, divinity blossoms there, and where women are dishonored, all action no matter how noble remain unfruitful.)


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