NEW DELHI: JNU professor Rakesh Bhatnagar has been appointed as the vice-chancellor of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the HRD Ministry said today.
Bhatnagar, who was VC of Kumaon University from 2012 to 2013, has been teaching at JNU for two decades and his areas of interest include molecular biology of infectious diseases, recombinant vaccine development and programmed cell death in prokaryotes.
President Ram Nath Kovind, who is the Visitor to the university, approved Bhatnagar's appointment this week, a senior HRD Ministry official said.
He will take charge from BHU Registrar Neeraj Tripathi, who had been holding the additional charge of the top post since October last year.
Bhatnagar's predecessor, Girish Chandra Tripathi, had gone on leave two months before his tenure came to an end, following a ruckus on campus in September last year.
The development came amid indications from HRD Ministry sources that the central government was upset with the manner in which the former vice-chancellor had handled the entire episode, including a protest by women students following an incident of alleged harassment.
The ruckus started when a number of students, including women, and two journalists were injured in a baton-charge by the police after a protest against an alleged eve-teasing incident turned violent in BHU, one of the 43 central universities in the country.
According to a The Hindu report, Bhatnagar was part of the high-level committee which was formed to probe into an incident on JNU campus, where a group had allegedly raised 'objectionable slogans' on 9 February 2016. The committee had held Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya among other organisers for allowing 'masked outsiders' in the event.
After, the February 9 incident, eight students, including Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashuthosh Kumar, Umar Khalid and Rama Naga were debarred.
A The Hindu report dated 23 February 2016, quotes Sandeep Kumar, a former JNU students' Union president saying "Students who have been a part of the university are very well aware of Mr. Bhatnagar's stand. He was the founder of the Youth for Equality (YFE) cell in the campus and had also supported the movement against reservation. He had led the protest against reservation from front".
(with Online Desk inputs)