LUCKNOW: The trouble on the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus, triggered by a girl student's demand for security followed by the administration's inept handling of the issue, has given room for politicians stir up a controversy in a constituency represented by the Prime Minister in Parliament.
On Monday, four days after the protest started and most boarders had left for their hometowns as the university had advanced the Puja holidays, political leaders turned up at the gates of BHU to see if they would get some traction.
While UP Congress in-charge Ghulab Nabi Azad, several senior leaders in tow, arrived in Varanasi to express solidarity with the students, Samajwadi Party workers had a run-in with security forces when they were stopped short of the campus gates. They claimed to be a 'fact-finding' team sent by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to get to the bottom of the happenings on campus.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sent his emissaries – Raj Babbar and Ghulam Nabi Azad -- to Varanasi to assess the situation and play accordingly. But Babbar was detained on Sunday night and Azad was denied entry into the campus.
BSP supremo Mayawati also made her presence felt by condemning the police action of girls calling it unfortunate finally directing her barbs at Yogi Adityanath government for failing to handle the situation properly.
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad also landed in Varanasi on Monday but was detained first at the airport while heading to attend a youth training camp organised by the Samajwadi Jan Parishad, a political party. She was later released a little after 7 pm.
The BHU has been in the news for over a year for issues like the ban on non-vegetarian food in women’s hostels and restrictions on women students' movements after sun down. The molestation of a student on Thursday brought their pent-up anger to the fore.
As per BHU sources, the BFA student from Delhi -- who has been incommunicado to the media – said in her complaint to the proctoral board that as she was passing by the Bharat Kala Bhawan on campus a little after 6 pm last Thursday, two men on a motorcycle groped her from behind and sped away.
Shocked, she called out to a guard at proctor’s office just 100 m away but received no help. She ran to her hostel and narrated the incident to her friends. They rushed back to the spot and lodged a complaint in the proctor’s office. Instead of helping the students, they were made some unwanted comments and asked why the woman was moving around alone in the evening.
This so infuriated the women students that they sat on a dharna at the entrance of the campus that very night, demanding the vice-chancellor’s intervention. Specifically, they wanted street lights and CCTV camera on campus and policewomen posted on security duties.
As the vice-chancellor did not bother to meet them, they continued the dharna through Friday. As a result, the route of the Prime Minister’s convoy had to be changed as BHU’s Mahila Mahavidyalaya was on the way to a temple that the PM was to visit.
What was until then a peaceful protest, it turned violent when some students wanted to enter the VC’s house on Saturday night. That triggered a brutal response from the police against the protestors – among whom were a good number of girl students -- who were chased and beaten mercilessly.