The Indian Wire » Editorial » Full Story of BHU Incident : When Powerless Women Empowered India
Editorial

Full Story of BHU Incident : When Powerless Women Empowered India

The eve-teasing incident recently at BHU has become a national headline and government's shameless acts are just adding more to student's anger.

The story still goes the same way, what was she doing out so late at night? She should have been more careful roaming around all alone at this time? It must have been the girl’s fault, she should not have gone out so late.

Yes, this is how it goes when any voice is raised against female molestation and the same happened last Thursday at the Banaras Hindu University. A first-year student and resident of the university hostel was molested and grabbed by three bike-borne men just outside the BHU campus at around 6:20 pm on 21 Sep evening. She shouted and called for help but the guard on duty did not seem to hear her pleas or maybe heard them but turned a deaf ear deliberately.

After the incident, when the molested girl went to complain about it to her higher officials, there also she did not get much but sympathy. Later when the girls confronted the guard that why he did not help her, he ignored the seriousness of the issue and just replied that she should be careful when out alone in the dark.

The students had, the very next day came onto the roads protesting against the administration for not taking any action regarding the incident. The protest went on till late night. However, the students were instructed not to protest as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit his constituency, the same day the protest began. The chief proctor ON Singh even ordered the students to keep quiet until the prime minister’s visit is over.

According to the sources, ON Singh also held talks with the protesting students trying to win their confidence. During his discussions, he even promised to punish the guilty responsible for the shameless act. One of the agitated student expressing her anger towards the administration of the university and to an extent even the administration of India said that “PM Modi has been speaking volumes about his ambitious Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign but he should come and see the reality at BHU. The VC and proctor, instead of ordering an inquiry, are blaming the girl for roaming around inside the university premises late in the evening.”

The agitated students wanted that the Prime Minister should be made aware of the molestation incident. As per the sources, Modi’s cavalcade was supposed to pass through the BHU gate but his route was changed trying to avoid the uproar.

When on 21 Sep the student went to complain about it to the proctor, instead she was asked to prove her credibility and questioned what was she doing outside at 6 pm. Not only the victim but all the other girls were also surprised at the questioning reaction of the higher authorities. On the very next day, the incident gained heights when around 200 students gathered outside the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding strict action against the boys responsible for this.

One of the students protesting for her friend also went to limits of shaving off her head and said that she would continue to do so every month to desexualise herself. The students went on to protesting even till midnight. They had complaints that the molesting had become an everyday issue for the girls staying in the BHU hostels and the higher authorities were not taking any actions against it. Some students also admitted that many students drop out of college to avoid harassment. “Getting harassed is a very common thing in BHU. It happens almost every day,” a protesting girl said.

Women at the BHU also complained that the higher authorities give little heed for the security of females staying there. A BHU student in her statement to the press said that “a large part of the university remains underlit. There are a handful of CCTV cameras in the campus. Even among the ones that are installed, only a few work.”

As the agitators grew in number, around 400-500 students both male and female gathered outside the vice-chancellor’s office demanding him to come up in the open in front of the media and answer. However, late a bunch of girls later agreed to meet the VC Girish Chandra Tripathi separately, on the condition that no other professor be present, and the media and SP also be at the meeting. But the protest-fueled more when the VC as promised did not show up for the meeting.

The situation became violent as the male students charged with metal rods in hands. To control the situation immediately a company of CRPF jawans was deployed on the campus, in addition to the 80-odd police force already present.

The gathered students waiting for the VC to show turned violent when he did not show up and the police began lathi charge at the protesting students. The females students even said that there was no female constables and women CRPF army, male cops lathi charged against the female students and threw rocks at them.

Responding to this incident university’s public relations officer Rajesh Singh said, “the protesters were told any dharna or demonstration without prior permission is banned on BHU premises. Despite that, they didn’t leave and started using abusive language against the vice chancellor. Thereafter, they were driven away by security personnel.”

The VC Girish Chandra Tripathi defending his position commented that some anti-social elements were involved in deliberately creating this whole incident.

Following the incident of lathi charge, the students went on to demand the resignation of the VC.

Meanwhile, all the political parties were condemning the incident and especially the lathi charge saying that it should not have happened. Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav even said that the issue of eve teasing will be raised in the parliament. While former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that the matter should be solved with peace and violence should be avoided.

Sitaram Yechury also criticising the government said that only such a government can use male officers to chare lathis n females.

After the lathi charge incident, though the situations were under control, the women inside the BHU campus were scared. Some of the female professors revealed that even they were not spared and safe. Shraddha Singh, Proctorial Board Member said that “Why is the campus unsafe? It is because of these boys. These boys don’t leave us either. Even we aren’t safe.”

She also confessed that the guards are all confused as to what orders should they follow and what actions should they take. She said that the guards are given specific orders and have to follow them, but if according to the orders they take an action against the boys than they come complaining against the guards.

A faculty who has also studied in the BHU for five years confessed that the recent incident, did not happen just like that, the anger has been building up for years and things have gotten progressively worse. She also admitted that though the administration assured that the women grievance redressal cell is active, the students did not know how to contact the grievance cell or what exactly they’re meant to do.

Meanwhile, the BHU vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi claimed that “this (21 Sep) incident is very unfortunate. I am very sad about it. But sometimes issues are there and some issues are created. This issue was created. I think this issue was created by outsiders and the shape it took is what is more unfortunate than the initial incident itself.” He also assured that the fact that the girls are feeling scared and unsafe in the BHU campus are all rumours.

FIRs were lodged against around 1000 unidentified students for violence, arson and disrupting government work in the BHU campus.

Following the series of events that took place on 21 Sep, the chief proctor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) resigned on Tuesday. This resignation ca,e into being just after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath, demanded probe into the incident.

As per the latest updates, the VC of BHU has faced a lot of criticism after the recent incident. The NHRC has sought a detailed report on the incident from UP’s Chief Secretary, the DGP, and the VC within four weeks. Some government higher officials are also of the view that current VC Girish Chandra Tripathi will soon be released of his duties as the HRD Ministry is planning to constitute a search and election committee to appoint BHU’s next vice chancellor.

The recent developments tell that the VC finally hed meeting with the protesting students and also appointed the new proctor. Following the protest and the lathi charge against the students, BHU now has a female proctor, Dr Rayna Singh.

To tighten the security and enhance the safety of the women, the BHU management has issued a Women’s helpline number – 8004922000 under the Women grievance cell for their protection. Besides this, a mail id has also been issued  [email protected] It is also specified that the administration will take action within 10 minutes of a complaint lodged.

The Vice-Chancellor informed that CCTV cameras are being installed at other places including the main gate. Women security personnel will also be deployed in BHU and bad street lights have been fixed at the campus. He also assured that to further strengthen the security system at the University campus new schemes are being planned and will be implemented soon.

Comments

comments