LUCKNOW: Wardens of four Banaras Hindu University (BHU) hostels disclosed to New Indian Express Monday that mere recollection of Saturday night’s police brutalization of girl students protesting harassment on campus gives them the chills.
“We are yet to come to terms with the way police beat up the girl students at the Mahila Maha Vidyalaya (MMV). The policemen used choice expletives as they caned the girls and stamped on those who had fallen to the ground,” said Pratima Gond, who is the warden of the Pragya Kunj hostel.
She herself received head injuries while saving her wards from the police canes.
Gond said the girls’ protest for better security on campus was genuine – particularly so after a student walking back to her hostel had been molested by motorcycle-borne men on campus on Thursday evening.
The girls began their protests that very night, trying to draw the attention of the administration to the lack of street lights and CCTV cameras on the roads leading to the hostel. They were also incensed that the when the girl who was molested did ask a guard posted just 100 m away for help but received no response.
Pratima Gold said that after the Thursday incident, the girls kept changing the venue of their protests across campus in anticipation of receiving a hearing from the authorities.
Substantiating Pratima Gond’s version, warden Patience Phillip, who looks after the Swasti Kunj, Kirti Kunj and Kundan Devi hostels located at MMV, said, “Somebody communicated to the girls picketing the BHU main gate that vice-chancellor G C Tripathi was coming to MMV to talk to them. A large number of students rushed to the spot but the VC did not go there. He refused to talk to the girls in front of the media and objected to live-streaming of his talk with the protestors.”
According to Pratima Gond, when it became clear that the vice-chancellor would not come to MMV, the girls tried to return to main gate. But by then violence had erupted on campus and police started using force on protestors between the BHU main gate and the hostel road.
In the melee, the MMV girls ran back to their college premises and tried to close the gate. “The protesting boys broke the gate but did not enter the MMV college premises,” recalled the warden.
But policemen entered the MMV premises after dispersing the boys and started caning the girls, she added.
One girl got trapped at the broken gate and was brutally beaten up by the policemen. Pratima Gond said she tried to save the girl she was also caned.
Later, Patience Phillip and other staff of the MMV hostels pulled Pratima Gond and the injured girl inside the premises. But, they said, till then dozens of policemen had entered the outer lawn of MMV where they cane charged the girl students.
However, the two wardens said the policemen did not enter the hostels.