Banaras Hindu University is not used to student protests, marches or sloganeering as the prestigious varsity remains highly apolitical, unlike other major universities of the country. It doesn’t have a Student’s Union body to represent the students’ collective interest, neither does the teaching fraternity express any open political affiliations.
However, BHU has been on the boil for the past few days due to the raging students’ movement protesting an alleged molestation of a girl student by bike-borne men near the campus premises. The impact of the movement reached the national capital yesterday when different students’ outfits conducted solidarity campaigns and clashed with the police. Here is the BHU unrest story so far, as it happened.
IN PICS | What happened at Varanasi's BHU as we know
21 September, Thursday: A girl student of the Fine Arts Undergraduate department of the Mahila Mahavidyalaya College is verbally and physically assaulted by three unidentified men right outside the BHU campus around 6 PM. The terrified girl runs to her room in the college hostel, and later complains to the warden along with her friends. The warden reportedly takes no action based on the student's complaint and accuses her of “going out at late hours”. Infuriated by the response, the university girls stage a dharna outside the warden’s office. Police is called in and they intervene by lathicharging the girl students, a move widely criticised across the country. The protests reach the national capital, and various student political outfits condemn the incident.
22 September, Friday: A large number of female students from the BHU campus come together to conduct a protest campaign, demanding immediate action by the University vice-chancellor against increasing cases of eve-teasing and sexual molestation in and around the campus premises. Vice-Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi agrees to speak with the representatives of the students in his chamber, but the protestors refuse in the light of earlier instances where similar movements were neutralised by threat and suspension of leaders. They demand that the VC address the protesting girls out in the open.
23 September, Saturday: The movement that is so far a peaceful one takes a violent turn as students pelt stones at the policemen. They lathicharge in response, injuring several girls participating in the ongoing dharna. The University later issues a release, claiming the movement is politically motivated. The protestors counter stating that those behind the stone pelting are not students of the university.
24 September, Sunday: After Saturday’s crackdown, the girls decide to organise a silent march to the Lanka Gate of the university. More students join in the march on Sunday, following the brutal police crackdown of the previous night, with boys of the campus coming out in solidarity with the girls. The police, however, charge upon protestors without any provocation, leaving many students with head and leg injuries. Cases are filed against over a thousand university students.
25 September, Monday: Expressing their solidarity with their kind in Varanasi, students in New Delhi take out protest marches and engage in clashes with the police. They shout slogans against the Yogi Adityanath-led UP state government and the NDA government at the Centre, for addressing students’ movements with force. The students march under the banners of NSUI, ASA and AISA. The student-wing of the RSS, the ABVP, too organises a rally demanding updation of the existing system, into a more student-friendly one. The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday transfers five officers from their posts and launches a high-level probe led by the chief secretary into the policemen’s brutal treatment of students protesting harassment of women on campus.
26 September, Tuesday: Varanasi Commissioner Nitin Gokarn submits a preliminary report to Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar over the incident and blames the University administration for not handling the matter in a sensitive manner. Gokarn, in his report to the Chief Secretary, says that the BHU neither dealt with the victim's complaint in a sensitive manner nor handled the situation on time.