LUCKNOW: The week-long tumult over women’s safety at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) culminated Thursday in the appointment of the century-old varsity’s first-ever woman proctor.
Born in France, but a native of Jaunpur district in eastern UP, Royana has been the chairman of the university’s women’s grievances cell since 2013. Recounting the incident, Royna regretted that the girl molested on September 21 did not approach the cell even when the contact details of the cell was available in the girl hostels.
It, however, brings forth the fact that the body actually failed to make a proper reach among the girl students and win their confidence.
“I had gone to Triveni hostel on getting information of the incident on September 21 night and the issue had been settled. But, I don’t know why the girls started agitation after that,” said Royana mentioning that she left Varanasi on September 22 for two days.
Royana, also disclosed that only 45 complaints had been made by the women staff and students to the cell so far.
Prof Royana Singh has been named to the post just a day after vice-chancellor G C Tripathi appointed Dr Mahendra Kumar Singh, dean of student welfare, to temporarily handle the charge after incumbent O N Singh had left under a cloud.
These quick developments are the result of protests that erupted on campus after a fine arts sophomore was groped on the way to her hostel last Thursday. The security staff’s indifferent response to the girl’s plea for help cost proctor O N Singh his job while an administrative enquiry by the state government found fault with the lack of sensitivity in the university’s handling of the case.
While the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development has not come forth on the recent incidents, it remains to be seen if any further heads will roll and whether campus protests will recommence when students get back to their hostels after the Dussehra break on October 2.
Vice-chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, himself under a cloud for not meeting the protesting girl students, said Thursday he would resign if he was asked to go. He said the ministry — to which all central universities report while also for the name’s sake being autonomous — has not told him to go yet. The ministry has in the meanwhile initiated the process to shortlist a successor to Prof Tripathi, whose tenure ends in the normal course on November 30.
“So far, nothing of that sort has been communicated to me. I have been in touch with the minister (Prakash Javadekar) right from the day of the incident. But if am I asked to go on leave, I will resign,” he said.
The vice-chancellor also made it clear he would construe it as an ‘insult’ if asked to go on leave after having done ‘so much’ for the university. “Having done so much, it will be insulting to go on leave two months before my tenure comes to an end. I will prefer quitting,” he said.
Having been jolted out of its slumber, the university has been brisk in the last two days addressing the gender imbalance in its thinking. The VC announced Wednesday that he would appoint senior girl students of the physical education and sports departments as women security personnel.
The appointment of Royana Singh to the proctor’s chair is perhaps a part of that process.