VARANASI/LUCKNOW: Making haste to tamp down the flames that have broken out at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus in Varanasi, the Uttar Pradesh government on Monday transferred five officers from their posts and launched a high-level probe led by the chief secretary into the policemen’s brutal treatment of students protesting harassment of women on campus.
The incident threatened to snowball into a wider issue as Varanasi is the Prime Minister’s constituency in the Lok Sabha. Opposition parties targeted the BJP government over the police action against women students and activists began making a beeline to the BHU campus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah spoke to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath on the sidelines of the BJP national executive in New Delhi and asked him to address the issue at the earliest.
On Monday, three additional city magistrates of Varanasi and two police officers were removed in connection with the brutal baton charge on Saturday night but at the same time, FIRs were filed against policemen as well over 1000 students – both unnamed.
According to sources in Varanasi district, three additional city magistrates -- Manoj Kumar Singh, Sushil Kumar Gaund and Jagdamma Prasad Singh – have been transferred while Rajiv Singh, the station house officer of the Lanka police station and circle officer Nivesh Katiyar were moved from their posts.
Trouble began on the campus last Thursday after a woman student of the Arts Faculty was harassed by three motorcycle-borne men as she was returning to her hostel. Protests by female students snowballed after men joined in and demanded sterner action by vice-chancellor G C Tripathi.
On Monday, there was an uneasy calm on campus. A huge contingent of policemen, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were posted to keep order. The district administration has ordered the closure of the campus and affiliated colleges in Varanasi.